Our Salvation Army Gala at the Marriott Marquis was lovely last night, and we raised more than $1.1 million. Emily Ann Roberts, a sweet 18-year-old former finalist on “The Voice,” sang Christmas songs, accompanying herself on guitar and with our Army band and choir.
The highlight of the evening of me, though, was when host Harry Smith went off script to talk about his experiences with The Salvation Army. Shortly after he had been asked to come to New York to join CBS 35 years ago, he was taken to 21 and was excited to be in such a big-time celebrity hot spot. While he was eating, some Salvation Army choir members came in and began singing Christmas carols. Since the words were well-known, people joined in. He saw titans of industry and entertainment singing along with tears in their eyes. He was told the Army choir did that every year so he decided to have them on his show. He also happened to play tuba so he played on air with the Army band. Last night he joined them onstage to play for us as well. What a good sport.
He then said how for 40 years as a journalist whenever he was covering a disaster, he would arrive with his crew and they would travel down some dirt road and see destruction and people wandering around dazed and there to the side would be a Salvation Army truck handing out sandwiches and coffee. He saw this too at the World Trade Center where the Army had set up a half dozen sites and maintained them throughout the long months of clean up, giving out coffee and sandwiches to all the workers.
Hearing those testimonies made me all the prouder to work for The SA at this time each year. I am truly blessed and duly grateful.