PORTLAND — At 87, Bob Traill is an active member of the Salvation Army, the Rotary Club, the Patient and Family Centered Care Council at Maine Medical Center, and goes to the gym three times a week.
On Saturday afternoon, the Cape Elizabeth resident could be found ringing a bell at Northgate Shopping Center for holiday donations to the Salvation Army Kettle Campaign.
“I first came in contact with the Salvation Army when I went to Japan,” he said, referring to time served during World War II. He said as he left Hawaii for war, women from the Salvation Army served donuts and coffee. When he returned, they were there to welcome him home. He said the Salvation Army officer who was assigned to his battallion went into battle with the soldiers, a risk he didn’t have to take.
“He stayed with us and passed out tropical chocolates,” Traill said. “Their service is something you don’t forget.”
Throughout his 25 years of involvement, Traill has served on various Salvation Army boards and committees. He was the chairman of the nominating committee and recruited about 10 new members when numbers were thin. He served as chairman of the development committee and helped approve the capital campaign. Most recently, Traill was the chairman of the advisory board of the Portland Corps.
A few years ago, Traill said he was awared a rare honor – he was named a lifetime Advisory Board member of the Portland Corps.
“I continue to serve on the board, and ring the bell every year,” he said. “The board is strong, and there are many organizations we help, but like everybody, we were hit hard financially at the beginning of the year. I am happy to hear collections have been up, but the need for people is greater than ever.”
Capt. Terry Schaffer of the Salvation Army Portland Corps has been involved with the organization about 15 years. He said the public need for food and clothing has increased 40 percent from last year and the Christmas family program that provides gifts, toys and food for the holidays has seen a 22 percent increase in demand.
The Christmas donation distribution began last Friday, and Shaffer said volunteers will serve more than 600 families in greater Portland.
“This year we have seen people who have donated in the past ask for assistance,” he said. “People are in need.”
Kettle donations are nearing the organization’s $110,000 goal, Shaffer said.
“That’s a lot of nickles and dimes,” he said.
Both Shaffer and Traill said the Salvation Army is a unique organization. To them, it is like an extended family, or a close-knit community.
Traill said fundraising helps to fund programs such as Coats for Kids, lunches for seniors, and holiday baskets, and Shaffer said visits to nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and children’s facilities are an important part of the Salvation Army.
“It doesn’t seem like much, but you never know how important it is to say an encouraging word or give a little of yourself,” he said. “A single act of kindness can go a long way.”
Even after the holidays, Shaffer said people will need assistance with heating bills, clothing and food.
“People don’t seem to realize that the need continues between February and April,” he said. “There is always a need.”
To volunteer, help or donate, call 774-4172 or visit the Portland Salvation Army at 297 Cumberland Ave.
Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Lifelong Salvation Army board member Bob Traill, left, of Cape Elizabeth, and Larry Gross of Scarborough spent a few hours last Saturday ringing the bell for donations for the Salvation Army Kettle campaign. Traill has been a member of the Salvation Army for nearly 25 years.