The NFL Champion Seattle Seahawks are thankful for The Salvation Army after last weekend’s win against the Denver Broncos. Not because of anything that happened on Sunday, but because years ago The Salvation Army helped an 8-year-old fall in love with football. Because later those memories of playing on a Salvation Army youth team helped to pull a young man out of slump during his football career at Stanford University. Because The Salvation Army gave a young man the faith to trust in his own talent and the confidence to play professional football.
The story of Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin is remarkable. It’s a reminder of how vitally important it is to create positive, encouraging environments for young children and teens who might otherwise choose self-destructive and negative behaviors. Doug has called The Salvation Army his “home away from home” when he was growing up in Pensacola, Florida. His story is amazing, but it’s not the only one.
All across Indiana, Salvation Army youth activities give children the opportunity to learn about sportsmanship, dedication, and perseverance in a Christian setting. From indoor dodge ball at the Huntington Corps Community Center to just shooting hoops after school at the Eagle Creek Corps Community Center in Indianapolis, kids are staying active and finding fellowship with The Salvation Army. Lifted from the day-to-day drudgery of poverty or the violence of their neighborhoods, these children are offered a chance to shine.
While most of these kids won’t grow up to play in the Super Bowl, they will have a head start on life and great memories of playing in a loving, supportive environment. They will grow up to be teachers, coaches, mechanics and dentists. They will pass along lessons learned at The Salvation Army to the next generation while volunteering their time, talent and treasure to make our world a better, safer place for children.
And, who knows, perhaps someday one of them will bring home a national championship trophy.
It does happen.
Click here to read an essay that Doug Baldwin shared on Stanford University’s website that tells about the impact that playing football with The Salvation Army had on his life and career.