Recent News
    The Salvation Army receives fourth gold coin of season in St. Louis; kettles to come in Wednesday with campaign behind
    The Salvation Army to light star of hope tonight
    The Salvation Army Harbor Light Center to serve Christmas dinner
    Gov. Holden to ring bell for The Salvation Army Tuesday

    The Army’s History

    The Salvation Army was founded in 1865 in London, England, by William and Catherine Booth. Booth was a Methodist minister who was called to another ministry: the urban poor of England. He felt compelled to offer salvation and a better way of life to the less fortunate. The organization grew rapidly, adopting a military structure for its war against sin, poverty and violence.

    The Salvation Army arrived in the United States in 1880, and Commissioner George Scott Railton came to St. Louis later that year with a group of female officers to establish a presence here. But the St. Louis authorities would not let him hold meetings in the streets, and he was ordered to move on. He realized, however, that the authorities had no power over the icy Mississippi River, especially on the Illinois side, so he and his congregation went where the skaters were to sing and draw attention to their cause.

    The early years were lean, and Commissioner Railton regularly sacrificed his personal comfort for the welfare of his congregation. But the Army survived and grew in St. Louis, and some of the organization’s major accomplishments have taken place here. For instance, the first issue of The War Cry, a national Salvation Army publication with a circulation of hundreds of thousands, was published in St. Louis in 1880. And in 1947, the local Army established the first Tree of Lights Christmas fundraising campaign. Today, Tree of Lights campaigns are held in many other states and even other countries. In St. Louis, the 2001 campaign brought in more than $4.8 million to help the less fortunate of our area.

    From Commissioner Railton’s tenure to that of our present leader, Major Robert Thomson, The Salvation Army of St. Louis has had a long line of devoted officers who, with the help of generous St. Louisans, have made sure the Army continued to grow and expand to meet the ever-increasing need for services.

    From the first Corps Community Center established in 1888 at 1324 Tower Grove Avenue, we have grown to six Corps within the city, and the Midland Division, which is headquartered here, includes 23 more in Missouri and southern Illinois. The Corps provide spiritual, educational and social activities for area residents, regardless of their religious affiliation. The Army also provides many social services in St. Louis, helping battered women, neglected children, people with substance abuse problems, and victims of personal tragedy. Our local social service facilities include the Harbor Light Center, the Hope Center for Children, Family Haven, the Community in Partnership Family Center, a Transitional Housing program, and an Adult Rehabilitation Center.

    In 2001, we served 595,224 local individuals. Here are some of the ways we did it:

    • 50,740 youths were served through music or character-building programs
    • 49,221 individuals received emergency assistance
    • 302,053 nights of lodging were provided
    • 827,843 meals were served

    From 1880 to the present, St. Louisans have helped The Salvation Army meet its obligation to the less fortunate. The story of our success is the story of your faith, hope and love. Thank you for your support of The Salvation Army of St. Louis and its ministry to the physical, spiritual and social needs of your fellow citizens.

    Quick Facts

     In St. Louis
    90 cents of every donated dollar goes directly to local services
    nights of emergency shelter
    total meals served (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
    people served at the clinic
    People served at resource centers