MOREHEAD CITY — It looked like a Black Friday rush as 250 residents gathered Thursday to celebrate the grand opening of the new $3.4 million Salvation Army worship and service center.
“This is the culmination of the hard work of the community,” Maj. Aaron Goldfarb of The Salvation Army said. “This is the first time we’ve owned property here and it’s because of you.”
The group will also host a dedication service at 3 p.m. Sunday at the center.
“We’ll be dedicating the building to the glory of God and the service of people,” Maj. Goldfarb said.
People filled every nook and cranny of the center’s thrift store to hear the opening remarks and a dedication prayer for the new facility on a 3.3-acre tract at 2800 Bridges St. Crowds then moved to the outside of the building to watch Salvation Army leaders join county and Morehead City officials cut the ribbon.
As soon as the ribbon was cut, shoppers went inside the thrift store to take advantage of racks of clothes and shelves and tables filled with housewares, jewelry and Christmas decorations in the 10,000-square-foot store.
The center also contains a 9,000-square-foot worship and education center and social service and administrative offices.
During the opening ceremony, County Commission Chairman Mark Mansfield said, “This is going to be a blessing to our county.”
He was especially excited about the fact that the center will house emergency workers and first responders during disasters such as hurricanes. He commended The Salvation Army for its help to the county during Hurricane Florence in September 2018.
“They served 30,000 meals across the county right after Florence,” Mr. Mansfield said. “They provided $350,000 for housing assistance and $50,000 in utility assistance. They also replaced 55 appliances for people.”
Mr. Mansfield was also happy The Salvation Army plans to expand youth programs thanks to the additional space.
Salvation Army Advisory Council Chairman Warren Benton thanked all those who donated to the Anchor the Army capital campaign that made the building possible. Following the ceremony, Mr. Benton said when a small group of people decided to start the capital campaign, they weren’t certain they would reach their goal.
“We didn’t know for sure if we’d be able to raise this level of money,” Mr. Benton said. “We even had a feasibility study done that said we might be able to raise $2.2 million. But we felt like we could do it, and we have reached it. We’re only $90,000 shy and we still have a lot of potential gifts expected to come in.”
Morehead City Mayor Jerry Jones said he was looking forward to what the center will mean to the community.
“What a wonderful gift to Carteret County,” Mayor Jones said. “This is not just about the building, but the many people who have dedicated their lives to serving others.”
Among the many attending the ceremony were Jane and John Capps, who have been involved with The Salvation Army since the effort began in the early 1990s to bring the organization to the county.
Following the ceremony, Mr. Capps said he had been approached by a small group of county business people, including the late Joe Beam and Bill Munden, about getting the organization here.
The first Salvation Army opened in Morehead City in a small brick building in 1993. It has continued to expand services since, especially with the many hurricanes that have hit the county.
Mr. Capps, who fought back tears as he talked, said he has been a fan of The Salvation Army since the organization helped his family when their farm in Lenoir County burnt down when he was a child.
“The Salvation Army was there to give my dad a billfold with money and clothes,” Mr. Capps said. “To this day I could never repay what The Salvation Army has done for our family.”
The new facility was needed because The Salvation Army had outgrown its former locations. The group closed down its old thrift store and social service and administrative offices in late October and early November in preparation for the grand opening.
The center is named in memory of Glenda Baker, the wife of one of The Salvation Army’s longtime volunteers, Mack Baker of Morehead City.
Mr. Baker said his wife would have been proud of the new facility.
“She would have loved this. She was all about serving others,” he said.
The new center has a private social services office, a larger food pantry with commercial refrigeration, a commercial kitchen for disaster services and feeding programs, a larger meeting area for community gatherings, a Family Store donation receiving area and larger thrift store shopping space.
Additionally, the center houses classroom areas for youth and character building activities. There will also be life skills classes such as family budgeting, financial management, job interviewing and how to complete a job resume. The Carteret Homebuilders Association will also offer basic skills classes.
Those who want to donate to the center’s capital campaign can go to salvationarmycarolinas.org/moreheadcity. There is an area on the site for donating to the Anchor the Army campaign.
Donors can also mail checks to The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 399, Morehead City, NC 28557.
Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.