“I was raised in The Salvation Army church programs in my hometown of Lynn, Mass.,” he said.
At age 15, Boynton said he felt a personal calling to becoming a Salvation Army minister.
The Salvation Army in Norwalk has helped people in need since its foundation in 1887. According to the Development Service Agencies of Ohio, “about 307,000 families in Ohio were poor during 2015-2016,” with Huron County having a poverty rate of 12.9 percent.
“Summer times are peak times in social services,” Boynton said. “Food is about 80 percent of what we do.”
With only three full-time employees and one part-timer, The Salvation Army depends heavily on volunteers. About 300 people volunteer seasonally with 15 to 25 volunteers per week in the summer.
The organization has a variety of services it offers, such as an emergency food pantry, community meals, hygiene supplies, utility assistance and more.
“People have emergencies and a staff member’s job is to help the person realize that there are core issues, root issues, so through relationship building we help families realize their real needs and help them address it,” Boynton said.
Thanksgiving and Christmas are when the non-profit organization sees the most community involvement.
“Secular Christmas culture teaches Americans to give… the Salvation Army has been one of those outlets for people.” Boynton said.
Christmas giving raises 40 percent of the budget.
Boynton said his hope for The Salvation Army's new year is to adapt to the changing needs of the community, such as opioid addictions, and to meet the yearly budget.
“Last year, in order to balance the budget, we cut out $30,000 and we ended the fiscal year with $16 in the bank,” Boynton said. “We don’t want to reduce programming if we don't have to. … The general public is supporting us because of social services.”
The Salvation Army is looking for new volunteers, particularly those able to work in the community kitchen on Thursdays.
“The Salvation Army’s ability to serve is based on community support,” Boynton said.