Written by Phil Cerroni
Compassion is not a spectator sport. Everyone has to play. – Charlotte Jones Anderson
By Sissy Courtney
One in every five children in Irving live below the poverty line, and The Salvation Army helps more children each year than any other organization in the world –one person every second. The Army helped over 30 million people across the United States this year, and they depend on the generosity of corporations and individuals in order to continue that work.
About 450 supporters of The Salvation Army attended the group’s Super Lunch Dec. 10, at the Irving Convention Center. Dallas Cowboys Executive Vice President of Brand Management Charlotte Jones Anderson spoke to the group. Anderson is the first female in history to chair The Salvation Army’s National Advisory Board.
“In 1997, Charlotte negotiated a nationally broadcast deal for the Cowboys Thanksgiving Day halftime show to kick off the National Red Kettle Campaign,” said emcee for the event Al Zapanta. “Now a tradition, this annual event has seen performances from Reba McEntire, Randy Travis, Destiny’s Child, Sheryl Crow, and Enrique Iglesias.
“These extravaganzas boosted donations to The Salvation Army. Over the past 15 years, $1.5 billion have been raised nationally through the Red Kettle Drive.”
Anderson shared her passion for the Dallas Cowboys and The Salvation Army.
“Passion is a funny thing,” Anderson said. “It has been said that nothing really great has ever been accomplished without passion.”
Last spring, Anderson had lunch with the Dalia Lama.
“As he was espousing some of his many pearls of wisdom, there was one that struck particularly close to home,” Anderson said. “He said, ‘True passion and emotion can cloud reality.’”
Anderson told how that cloudy reality failed to dim the vision of her father Jerry Jones when he decided to purchase the faltering Dallas Cowboys in the 1989 and to build Cowboys Stadium in Arlington 20 years later. She said the stadium has been visited by over 5 million people and seen on TV by over one billion.
“We realized that we can take that visibility and that interest and couple it with the championship tradition … to help someone else help someone else.” Anderson said. Her father gave her a mission to find an organization for them to stand beside and help.
Jones told his daughter to find an organization that can stand up to the media spotlight and scrutiny, one that can use the visibility, so that they could talk about something good when they talk about the Dallas Cowboys.
An unexpected meeting between the CEO of Frito Lay, Steve Reinemund, and Anderson led to the Cowboys’ partnership with The Salvation Army.
Reinemund, at that time the National Chairman of the Salvation Army, told her he thought the Cowboys organization could help raise awareness and tell more people of all the good things the Salvation Army does. That chance meeting led to the Cowboys Thanksgiving Day halftime show that kicks off The Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign every year now.
Anderson asked the people attending the luncheon to imagine what the world would be like without the Salvation Army and she listed the programs that would be missing if there were no Salvation Army:
Thanksgiving and Christmas would not be possible for over 4.2 million people.
2.9 million people in our prisons who are ready to change our lives would be without a minister.
87,000 Americans would still be unemployed.
190,000 at-risk children would miss the opportunity to attend summer camp.
Working parents of over 210,000 children would not have a safe place for their preschool children to go and to learn and grow during the day.
More than 1 million people who are victims of disasters such as hurricanes and tornados would have no place to go for financial assistance, food or shelter.
Over 700,000 senior citizens would remain hungry, lonely and desperate.
64 million means would still be missing among the most venerable in our society.
Ten million more nights would be spent on the street by the homeless.
325,000 people struggling from drug and alcohol abuse would have nowhere to turn to change their lives.
Over 15,000 children in the United States alone would still be victims of slavery and human trafficking.
“But thank Goodness; we don’t have to imagine that,” Anderson said. “We have The Salvation Army. The greatest responsibility we have as the Dallas Cowboys is what we can do to help those in need. We know that people don’t stand in line to buy tickets to see grace and mercy at work, and we know they don’t fill the stands and cheer for acts of compassion, because compassion is not a spectator sport. Everyone has to play.
“The Salvation Army is the men and women in blue uniform who work day in and day out, who work without affair, without accolade, helping those who are victims of natural disasters to those who are victims of the everyday disasters that strike in our community among the most venerable and impoverished,” Anderson said. “They provide hope to the hopeless, shelter to the homeless, and food to those in need. They’re an organization that we can trust.
“Right here in our community one in five children lives below the poverty line. Spread the word and most importantly tell you children about the Salvation Army. Tell them, ‘They are an Army fighting on our front line of our war on poverty right here in our own community. They are humble stewards of other people’s generosity. They feed empty stomachs and hungry souls. They are the Salvation Army, and they are doing the most good.’”
To donate $10 to the Irving Salvation Army, text DoGood IRV to 80888.To donate $5, text DoFoodDFW IRV to 80888.