Mike Mitchell, at right, receives a Life Member plaque of appreciation from Salvation Army Major Phil Lloyd of the division headquarters in Pittsburgh, during an informational breakfast sponsored by the Salvation Army Wednesday at the Bradford Club. Also shown are Captains David and Kristen Means, at left, of the Salvation Army in Bradford.

For the past two and a half years, Captains David and Kristin Means of the Salvation Army in Bradford have worked hard to grow their ministry by reaching out to the community.

One way they accomplished this was by conducting an informational breakfast Wednesday that included a special Life Member presentation to longtime volunteer and board member, Mike Mitchell.

Kristen Means said the breakfast, held at the Bradford Club and attended by community leaders and agency officials, was the first time in a number of years the Salvation Army has sponsored such an event.

“Our ministry has been growing and we’ve started quite a few things, assistance wise, in the community,” she said. “We started the clothing closet, which is free to the community” and is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Thursday at the headquarters at 111 Jackson Ave.

In addition, the organization hosts a food pantry for the needy on Mondays and Tuesdays.

She said the Salvation Army’s main fundraiser, the annual Red Kettle drive kicks off Nov. 15 and will soon begin orientation for workers who will be paid a stipend to man the kettles. She said volunteers are also needed for the fundraiser which will continue through the Christmas holiday.

“We are definitely in need of volunteers, because it’s always helpful to have good volunteers, and then of course we don’t have to pay somebody if volunteers are available,” she added.

David Means agreed and said the Salvation Army has had the support of a mix of community leaders and individuals who have helped the organization. They include Mitchell, who has volunteered for the Salvation Army for 52 years and served as advisory board chairman for 13 years.

The Life Member award, which is given to very few individuals, was quite a unique honor to be presented to Mitchell. Presenting the award was Major Phil Lloyd of the Salvation Army’s division headquarters in Pittsburgh.

Lloyd also spoke to the audience regarding the difference the Salvation Army has made for young people who have been helped by the ministry, including a young man named Steve and a young woman named Kiki. He said both came from difficult childhoods and are now helping others through the ministry.

During his comments on the Salvation Army’s services to the Bradford community, David Means said the ministry operates a food pantry that has helped 9,000 people over the course of the year and emergency housing to 44 families in 2018.

In addition, thanks to funding from the United Way of the Bradford Area, the Salvation Army provided emergency utility funds to 37 families last year. In addition, the ministry supplied holiday food to 220 families and winter outerwear to senior citizens and children through Project Bundle Up, among its services.

He said upcoming fundraisers will include the Brewing the Most Good coffee and tea challenges and the Bradford Trail Challenge which are both in need of volunteers.

Clothing or food donations can be dropped off at the Salvation Army from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and more information on volunteering or the ministry can be obtained by calling 368-7012 or by visiting Facebook.

(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)