POTTSTOWN — Salvation Army officials in Pottstown and Norristown will use more than $16,000 in emergency grant funds to help homeless families stay technologically connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Pennsylvania Head Start State Collaboration Office has awarded the Pottstown Salvation Army $10,000 and the Norristown Corps Community Centers $6,734 to purchase computer equipment.

“We are so grateful for this emergency funding. We have a number of school-age children in our shelter who don’t have computers,” explained Major David Irwin, commanding officer at the Salvation Army Norristown facility, which oversees the Norristown Family Residence Shelter, where seven families at a time receive shelter, food, and case management services.

“These generous funds will allow us to purchase computers and computer equipment to help the children who we serve with their homework and other educational purposes. We plan to set-up an educational section in the shelter with this funding,” Irwin added.

The Pottstown Salvation Army has similar plans for its Lessig-Booth Family Shelter that provides shelter, food, and case management for up to 11 families at a time.

Major Lawrence Shurtleff, corps commanding officer in Pottstown, said the organization plans to purchase four computers, four computer stations and two printers that operate as scanners and photocopiers for the children and youth in the shelter to use for school and educational purposes.

“We definitely had a need for this even before COVID-19 hit and closed schools,” Shurtleff said. “Right now, we only have one laptop that must remain in the office of the case manager for all 11 families to utilize and it is only available when the case manager has office hours. Thanks to this grant, our residents will now be able to do housing and job searches, online job training, as well as schoolwork with their children at night and on weekends.”

Officials said during the pandemic, when online schooling is expected and libraries are closed, the Norristown and Pottstown Salvation Army shelters were not equipped to help families with the electronic resources they need during the stay-at-home times.

“The equipment will also allow residents to access information they need, such as assistance applications, social security documents, birth certificate applications, and more, in a quick and convenient manor,” Irwin added. “The accessibility of internet services to the residents and their children is vital in today’s society, especially during a pandemic.”

One woman, a mother of five who has another on the way and who utilizes services provided by the Norristown shelter, said she is pleased about the access to computers that the grant will provide.

“Having a computer inside The Salvation Army shelter would help me and my family so much. I would be able to look for online jobs and resources for help with clothing, diapers, and things my family really needs,” said the woman, whose identity was kept confidential.

Officials said the Salvation Army is actively seeking partnerships with corporations, foundations, and community partners to help meet the needs of those who are vulnerable during the COVID-19 crisis.

To donate from a distance, go to salvationarmypa.org. All donations are directed to the zip code in which the donation originates.

All corporate gift offers should be submitted to Stephen Brown at stephen.brown@use.salvationarmy.org

The Salvation Army of Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware is a faith-based, comprehensive human service organization whose programs help individuals, families and communities lead healthier, safer and more productive lives. Programs include shelter, hot meals, counseling, early childhood development, after-school programs and job training.

The Pennsylvania Head Start State Collaboration, which is funded federally, facilitates partnerships between head start and early head start agencies and other state entities that provide services to benefit low-income children and their families.

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