Always doing more

The Salvation Army Levittown Corps gives solace and sustenance to those in need during COVID-19

Her privilege to serve: Lt. Kendall Stout, of The Salvation Army Levittown Corps, delivers meals weekly to elderly couple Walter and Helga, who are both disabled and have been self-quarantining since the pandemic began. Source: Chris Malloy

To many in the Lower Bucks County community, Lt. Kendall Stout is considered a uniformed angel.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Stout, of The Salvation Army Levittown Corps, has gone above and beyond her duties. She’s constantly driven to “do more” to help residents in need, whether it’s an elderly couple who cannot get to the grocery store, or homeless individuals who cannot make ends meet.

“These are hard times, but it’s such a privilege to bring a little bit of hope to them, to see their smiles and let them know that they’re not alone,” she said.

Recently, Stout was informed by a neighbor that local couple Walter, 78, and Helga, 77, was struggling to afford food using Social Security benefits. Both are disabled and have been self-quarantining since the pandemic began.

“Our income is too high to get welfare, but not high enough to cover our expenses,” Walter said. “By the end of the month, we are hurting for food.”

One night, after setting the table for dinner despite having nothing to put on the plates, there was a knock at the door. With no face masks to wear, Walter and Helga used coffee filters to cover their faces and greet their surprise guest.

Stout and Salvation Army employee Chris Malloy kept a safe distance on the porch, and presented them with bags of food.

“I don’t know who referred her to us, but she had all kinds of food, and it was certainly needed. Lt. Kendall was a godsend,” Walter said. “I think she deserves a promotion. On their way out, they even took the trash out for me so I wouldn’t have to do it myself.”

“I never met more grateful people in my life than when I stood at Walter and Helga’s door that day,” Stout reflected. “When we left, Walter was crying. My heart melted and I was in tears.”

A week later, Stout and Malloy returned with a spaghetti dinner to once again fill those empty plates, along with washable face masks. Since then, Stout has stopped by once a week to deliver food to Walter and Helga, who are celebrating their 57th wedding anniversary this month.

“Even though it might be one small meal, one small meal is all it takes to remind people they matter, they are not alone, and that there is hope,” Stout said.

Soon after, Stout found herself in another situation where she had a strong feeling she “had to do more.”

“A phone call came in from someone in the community asking if we could help a homeless couple who were living in a tent in the woods, cooking over a fire to eat. We were only given a general idea about where they were located,” Stout said. “With no hesitation, we loaded up with hot dogs, canned soups and food they could cook over a fire, along with socks and toiletries. Then we began our adventure to find them.”

She and Malloy set out with arms full of food, walking through muddy, bug-infested woods.

“We finally saw a tent and a fire in the distance. A man came running toward us with a huge smile and a sigh of relief,” she said. “He was another one who just kept saying, ‘Thank you, God bless you’ over and over again. He was real grateful for what he was given on that day.”

After dropping off the supplies, Stout and Malloy asked the couple if they needed anything else. The man said if they ever came across a pair of hiking boots, it would help his feet stay warm and dry.

“We then decided we could do more, so we made our way to a store and found a pair of hiking boots his size for just $13,” Stout said. “The man was overwhelmed with gratitude. I have never met anyone so grateful and humble in my life.”

In addition to these special deliveries, The Salvation Army Levittown Corps distributes 180 children’s meals, serving about 65 families, every Monday and Wednesday at its headquarters, 215 Appletree Drive, Levittown.

“They come to our lower parking lot. We have the food bagged up and we place it on their front seat and they go on their way,” Stout said, adding that no appointment or income requirements are needed. “Anyone’s welcome.”

On Tuesdays and Fridays, the organization gives out 100 frozen meals to families. Its mobile food pantry also brings much-needed items to high-risk individuals who cannot safely leave their homes.

“We’ve had the pleasure of loading up our vans every day and making door-to-door deliveries,” Stout said.

To date, the Levittown branch has distributed over 25,000 meals to serve over 4,800 individuals.

While The Salvation Army Levittown Corps can’t accept donations of food at the moment, Stout said monetary donations are always welcome.

“When people give in this area to our specific location, I think a lot of people think we outsource,” Stout said. “But the money stays right here in Bucks County. The money will not extend outside of this county. It’s used for our community and for our people.”

Visit pa.salvationarmy.org/levittown for more information.

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com