In a moving tribute to the work of The Salvation Army, veteran TV journalist Harry Smith said that in four decades covering disasters he could always count on finding The Salvation Army on the scene, handing out sandwiches and coffee. Such inspiring remarks by Mr. Smith, and others, were just some of the highlights of The Salvation Army Greater New York Division’s 69th Annual Gala, held November 29, 2016 (“Giving Tuesday”), at the New York Marriot Marquis in Times Square. Mr. Smith served as host of the event.


This year’s Gala, which raised more than $1.1 million, featured a Christmas Message by The Reverend Dr. Timothy J. Keller, founder and senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City and best-selling author, who was also this year’s recipient of the Greater New York Division’s Pinnacle of Achievement Award. Lt. Colonels Guy D. & Henrietta Klemanski, Divisional Leaders of The Salvation Army Greater New York Division, presented Dr. Keller with the award, the division’s highest honor.

Also honored was Hope for New York, a resource partner to nonprofits in serving New York City’s poor and marginalized — this year’s recipient of The Community Service Award. Elise Chong, Chief Executive Officer of Hope for New York, accepted the award on behalf of her organization, which was presented by Commissioner William A. Bamford, Territorial Commander of The Salvation Army Eastern Territory.

Rounding out this year’s awards was a new honor — the “Do Something” Recognition, presented to Kay Brown, by Major James W. Betts III, General Secretary of The Salvation Army Greater New York Division. Ms. Brown was recognized for literally giving the shoes off her feet to a barefoot homeless woman on the subway last November — an act of selfless compassion that became an inspiration to all New Yorkers.


This year’s headline performer, 18-year-old Emily Ann Roberts, a finalist on NBC’s The Voice, brought her angelic voice and personality to the evening, singing Christmas songs while accompanying herself on guitar. The country/gospel singer was later joined on stage by The Salvation Army’s Greater New York Youth Band and Chorus for a stirring rendition of “Amazing Grace” before ending her set leading the audience in the singing of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

Following a few words of greetings by long-time Salvation Army friend and supporter Howard Jacobson to open the program, Rabbi/Cantor Jill Hausman, spiritual leader of The Actors’ Temple in New York’s theatre district, offered the prayer before dinner. Lieutenant Chakanaka Watch, Commanding Officer of The Salvation Army’s Harlem Temple Community Center, gave the Benediction.


The Marriott’s majestic Broadway Ballroom was beautifully decorated, and the season’s spirit flourished throughout the evening. Mr. Smith’s unscripted remarks were a continuing unexpected bonus. At one point, he recounted a delightful story about an early encounter with The Salvation Army after moving to New York to work for CBS. While dining at midtown Manhattan’s prestigious ’21 Club’ a few days before Christmas, Mr. Smith noticed the arrival of Salvation Army brass musicians, who started playing Christmas carols — a tradition that has existed for The Army and ‘21’ since the Prohibition Era. Mr. Smith was amazed to see some of the ’21 Club’ patrons — leaders of industry and entertainment — singing along, with tears in their eyes. He was so moved, in fact, he asked The Salvation Army musicians to appear on his show. A tuba player himself, Mr. Smith has joined The Army players on many occasions since — including the night of the Gala when he took the stage with the Greater New York Youth Band for a rendition of “Deck the Halls.”


In addition to the wonderful array of honorees, speakers and music, the Gala also served as the kickoff for The Salvation Army Greater New York Division’s annual Red Box Campaign. During the holidays, a Salvation Army Red Box overflows with nonperishable food, clothing, toys, and other treats and necessities for individuals and families in need. The Red Box also serves as a symbol of the vast network of programs and services The Salvation Army provides to the hundreds of thousands of boys, girls, men and women in need throughout the Greater New York community during the holidays — and all year-round.

To learn more about the Red Box, or to make a donation to the Red Box Campaign, visit www.SalvationArmyNY.org/redbox or call (212) 337-7345.