April 10, 2009 in City

Group soliciting from drivers concerns some

By The Spokesman-Review

The uniformed men recently spotted on Spokane street corners collecting donations are not Salvation Army imposters, they are missionaries from a Pasco church.

But some Spokane residents who have seen them are confused and concerned.

The men, dressed in white uniforms with red stripes on their sleeves and a red shield on their shoulder, were brought to the attention of the Salvation Army late this week by a concerned citizen who thought they were misrepresenting the Salvation Army for a profit.

Business manager Sheila Geraghty investigated. The men had a city permit to solicit donations and are from a legitimate church, she said.

“People assume they are the associated with us because of the shield,” she said. “The uniforms are not representative of the Salvation Army.”

Despite the nonprofit’s financial problems, including closing its large therapeutic pool, officials were not concerned that the Pasco church’s efforts would take away from the Salvation Army.

“Collecting ashtray change cannot even compare to the money we make by ringing a bell in front a red kettle,” Geraghty said.

Frank O’Brien, spokesman of Missionary Church of the Disciples of Jesus Christ, said his church views Spokane as a project. The goal for the missionaries sent to Spokane is to raise enough money – $15,000 to $20,000 – to put a down payment on a piece of property or a building, he said.

“We try to establish different programs in different areas – so we can have missionary programs and offer food,” O’Brien said. A Christian rehabilitation center is the first program the church wants to offer.

The church, which is based in California and has churches in several South American countries, is new to Washington, the spokesman said. They have 17 missionaries and 45 members, he said. Currently, there are missionaries in Seattle and Portland as well as Spokane.

“We try to find a place where it is more populated,” O’Brien said. “That way we can help those areas.”

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