Meet Salvation Army Major Richard Starkey

You’ll see them everywhere during the holiday season, enduring the weather and ringing a bell. What you don’t see is them working on the invisible frontlines, offering help and providing for needs all year long. Safe beds. Warm meals. Christmas toys. Disaster relief. Helping wherever and whenever. Meet Richard Starkey, a major in the Salvation Army. He’s been doing good things for decades now. So, brothers and sisters, take care of each other and you will jingle all the way. Ring-a-ling, hear them ring. Wishing you all a warm and healthy Christmas, with bells on.

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Photo by David Mendelsohn

  • William and Catherine Booth started The Salvation Army in London in 1865. William was a Methodist minister and had a heart for the poor and oppressed.
  • He knew that people would not be open to hearing about Jesus if they were hungry, addicted, homeless, etc.
  • All Salvation Army officers are ordained ministers. My wife Bethany is a minister as well, and we lead TSA in Concord as a team.
  • All Salvation Army Corps have chapels, and we conduct Sunday worship services, Sunday school, midweek services, youth programs, women’s groups [and more].
  • The band has been a part of TSA from the beginning, and is used to accompany singing, to draw attention in open-air meetings on the street.
  • With all the different band pieces that have been produced and continue to be produced, The Salvation Army is actually the biggest publisher of music in the world.
  • Unfortunately, there are not as many bands or Salvationists playing brass instruments as there used to be.
  • The Salvation Army certainly provides for the needs of the homeless. In Concord, for instance, we have a 42-bed, case-managed shelter for men and women. We also run social services through our community center for food, clothing and other financial assistance.
  • It’s a great joy to be able to help those who may find themselves in need during the Christmas season.
  • Knowing that we will make hundreds of children’s lives better on Christmas morning because they will have a few toys under the tree is a wonderful thing.
  • It’s also when the biggest annual fundraiser takes places [The Red Kettle Season]. Just in New Hampshire alone, TSA raises hundreds of thousands of dollars to help those in need throughout the year.
  • Many unique items are found in the kettles — gold coins, wedding rings (either on purpose or by mistake!), rolls of $100 bills, hearing aid batteries — even lint!
  • TSA is involved in every major disaster that happens in the US or around the world. It’s not our major role, but one of the things we do.

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The Salvation Army started in London in 1865, but began in the USA in 1880. TSA is well known for sending 250 volunteers to France during WWI to serve donuts to the soldiers. Every year, National Donut Day is celebrated in the US on the first Friday in June in honor of these volunteers. Today, TSA has an official presence in 131 countries, and unofficially in a few others. The first kettle was used in San Francisco at the Oakland Ferry Landing by Capt. Joseph McFee, who wanted to provide a free Christmas dinner to the homeless and needed money to cover the cost.

COVID-19 concerns will hamper some collection efforts this year, but donations can be made at or by texting ConcordSA to 41444.

Band left to right: Jean Henderson, cornet; Capt. Nora McNeil, cornet; Lt. Brian Perks, alto horn. Richard Starkey is in front. Thanks to Concord’s Friendly Kitchen for enabling access to the photo’s location, an underpass in a part of the city where many homeless take shelter year-round.


Categories: Q&A