Eden family has long history with Salvation Army, which needs volunteers

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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. -- For the past six years, Captain Sarah Birks has helped thousands of people in need through her work with the Salvation Army of Eden.

She preaches on Sundays, ministers to the youth, and does community outreach as captain.

"God just called me,” Birks said. “He just touched my heart."

It’s a line of work Birks says is in her blood, literally.

She comes from a long line of Salvationists going back seven generations.

From her sister and brother to her parents, who are both majors at the Salvation Army in Charlotte, to her grandparents, who've retired as majors in California.

"We love the ministry,” she said. “We love to serve other people."

It's a service that often starts with volunteering. But some local branches say that help has taken a hit.

"It seems like our need has increased, but the amount of individuals that are able to come in and help us hasn't changed," said Major Leona O’Bryant, Regional Coordinator for the Salvation Army of Rockingham County.

The branch has had a 3 percent drop in volunteers since last June and a 10 percent drop in volunteer hours, according to O’Bryant.

During the holidays, the Rockingham County branch normally averages 750 volunteers in December, but that number drops to 50 by January.

The Salvation Army in Winston-Salem also sees a huge drop in volunteers after the holidays from more than 1,900 in December to an average of 65 from January to October, according to volunteer coordinator Abigail Linville.

"The demand is there, one person can only do so much," O’Bryant said.

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