The uniformed men spotted recently on Spokane street corners collecting donations are missionaries from a Pasco church, not Salvation Army impostors.
But some Spokane residents who have seen them are concerned.
The men, dressed in white uniforms with red stripes on their sleeves and a red shield on their shoulders, were brought to the attention of the Salvation Army late this week by a resident who thought they were misrepresenting the Salvation Army for profit.
Salvation Army 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 associated with us because of the shield,” she said. “The uniforms are not representative of the Salvation Army.”
The nonprofit has had financial problems locally, including being forced to close its large therapeutic pool. But officials were not concerned the Pasco church’s efforts would harm the Salvation Army.
“Collecting ashtray change cannot even compare to the money we make by ringing a bell in front of a red kettle,” Geraghty said.
Frank O’Brien, spokesman for the 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 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 rehabilitation center is the first program the church wants to offer.
The church, which is based in California and has locations in several South American countries, is new to Washington, O’Brien said. There are 17 missionaries and 45 members in the state, he said. There are also missionaries in Seattle and Portland.
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