Effort underway to save Petersburg Salvation Army shelter

PETERSBURG, Va. – A grassroots effort is underway to save the Petersburg Salvation Army.

The cost of operating the shelter doesn't even come close to what the area Salvation Army takes in from donations, leadership said.

So after, 20 years of operation, the Salvation Army has decided December 31 will be the men's shelters last day.

Closing the doors may benefit other services offered by the Salvation Army.

Capt. Donald Dohmann, Salvation Army area commander, said it costs $380,000 a year to keep the doors to the shelter open, and that the bottom line has been in red ink every year.

Right now, Dohmann said he is making plans to meet with area churches who may be willing to offer either financial support or serve as warming centers in the cold months.

"I’m more than willing to help and I’d definitely like to put something together with some local musicians,” said Matt Via, local musician.

Via is like many who watched the news and heard the shelter may go under.

"I said geez, there's got to be something that can be done,” agreed Rocking Randall Davidson, a local musician.

So Davidson is trying to organize a local concert as a fundraiser at Life Church in Chester.

The news brought an immediate response to help, either to keep the doors open or help the men brave the winter.

"If it's by keeping the shelter open through financial means or by giving of donations, we're going to do that,” Pastor Mike Cherry, Life Church.

If the shelter is going to close, we're going to do the best we can to help them through tents and coats and boots and everything we can to try to keep them warm,” Cherry said.

The Salvation Army also started getting phone calls.

"I’ve talked to probably a half dozen folks and civic groups and individuals who say, hey what can we do to help,” Dohmann said.

An estimated $75,000 would be needed to keep the doors open through the end of March.

"We says $25,000 each month, that's kind of on the high end but what we have to remember is our utilities will be on the high end because it's a bigger building, an older building,” Dohmann said.

While the city is still in financial distress, city leaders are hoping the community can help.

"We have over 140 churches here in the city and many civic organizations that would have loved to come in and help out in any way they seem fit,” Mayor Sam Parham, City of Petersburg.

"Everyone is a fan of the salvation army and I am happy they are starting to mobilize because we have to come up with a plan,” Parham said.