Retired Salvation Army officers keep giving back

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Southern California Retired Officers League has raised $100,000 to support officers overseas.

By Hillary Jackson –

The Southern California Retired Officers League (SCROL) has raised more than $100,000 to support retired officers overseas and special projects since 2001.

SCROL funds its projects through a pair of income sources: a mail campaign that asks each retired officer in the division to support retired officers in other countries, and an endowment established in 1999.

“We are very fortunate as officers in the U.S. for the great support The Salvation Army provides both while we’re active and especially while we are in retirement, and we recognize officers in third world countries don’t have the same level of support,” said Lt. Colonel Don McDougald, Assistant to the Chief Secretary and SCROL Treasurer.

Each fall, retired officers in Southern California receive a letter asking for support for Christmas gifts for retired officers in Tanzania, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines. The resulting funds are paired with those from the Northern California Retired Officers League, which partners for the campaign.

Last year, the efforts resulted in Christmas gifts for 178 retired officers overseas. The leagues provide $50 for each retired officer in the respective countries abroad, and an additional $50 if they’ve retired in the past year.

While $50 might not seem like a lot in the U.S. economy, McDougald noted it makes “quite a difference” in other places in the world.

“This means so very much to our people, and we are so very grateful,” said Majors Lapu and Araga Rawali in a report from Papua New Guinea. “Often it is the difference of being able to put food on the table every night of the week, when gifts like this come.”

SCROL and the Northern California Retired Officers League are two of the three active retired officers leagues in the Western Territory. The other league, in the Southwest Division, supports retired officers in Brazil.

In addition to the letter-funded Christmas gifts, SCROL gives funds to special projects, ranging from a new roof repair at the Lusaka Corps in Zambia to providing water filtration units at a girls’ home in India.

“We are so grateful for receiving donation from Southern California Retired Officers League for the purpose to provide water purification system and blankets to the needy children at Boys and Girls Homes in [India South-Eastern Territory],” said Secretary for Program Administration Lt. Colonel T. Alfred in a note. “The sterilized water and blankets are helping to keep good health to the home children, and the home managers and children were very happy to receive your generous help.”

While the special projects typically go toward the Army’s efforts outside of the Western Territory, SCROL donated Bibles, timbrels, books, desks and sports equipment within the Western Territory to Chuuk and the Marshall Islands in 2018.

SCROL was organized in 1930, and it’s been functioning ever since. According to McDougald, there are fewer officers retiring in Southern California than there used to be, but the group remains active.

When the Southern California Division merged with the Sierra del Mar Division in 2018, SCROL considered changing its name to reflect the new California South, but it was decided against due to the fact the acronym would resemble the word “casserole” (CASROL).

Outside of fundraising, SCROL meets several times a year to talk about projects and fellowship with one another. Generally, in November, the College for Officer Training at Crestmont (CFOT) invites the retired officers to plan and manage a meeting with the cadets to help prepare the next generation of officers for life in the field.

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