By Juhi Varma
The Salvation Army of Malden celebrated MLK Day by holding a special community service event. Volunteers gathered at the Salvation Army’s Main Street headquarters on Monday morning to hand out coats and clothing and serve a delicious lunch. This is the second year that administrators Lieutenant James Labbe and Major Joy Labbe have held a Day of Community Service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The husband and wife team explained the story behind the event. “We planned on getting coats from Anton’s Cleaner’s last year for Christmas, because we do a Christmas distribution,” said Lieutenant Labbe. “Well, they came after Christmas. So my wife and I decided that Martin Luther King Day would be the perfect day to distribute them. This year, we expanded and included a meal because we just finished up with our kitchen renovation.”
“There are probably about 300 coats, and then we had clothing of all sizes and hats and gloves, and some toys for kids,” said Major Labbe. “These are all new clothes, received from private donations. People have been coming in since 10 o’clock. The leftover clothes will go to the Salvation Army stores.”
The Malden chapter of the Salvation Army has been at its 213 Main Street location since 1979. “We also cover Medford and Everett,” said Lieutenant Labbe.
The Salvation Army offers a number of services to the community, such as youth programs, Bible Study groups and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. They also have a food pantry.
Lieutenant James Labbe has been an officer (or ordained minister) in the Salvation Army for three years and Major Joy Labbe for 15 years. The pair has been stationed in Malden since July 2011.
“The Salvation Army’s ‘Day of Community Service’ was a tribute to MLK’s commitment to improving the lives of others,” said Mayor Gary Christenson. “People coming together to donate clothing and serve a hot meal to those less fortunate was a perfect way to honor the values Dr. King exemplified. It was especially nice to see our Malden High students, the next generation of leaders, volunteering their time to make a difference.”
“Major and Lieutenant Labbe have worked incredibly hard to make the Salvation Army a wonderful resource in the community,” said Ward 1 City Councillor Peg Crowe. “We need to get the word out about all the great programs and services they have to offer, so that people can take advantage of them. I believe they served close to a hundred people yesterday but had the capacity to serve a lot more, and we know there are many more that need the help, but how do we get the information out to those in need? I am really proud that our community steps up in support of one another.”