Digital Hope and Love for Christmas Angels

In a year of a pandemic, new challenges rose to the challenge for a young Salvation Army in Romania and its Angel Tree Campaign. Limiting contact with each other, meeting an increasing need for assistance and decreases in giving due to the overwhelming uncertainty week to week, we had our 5 major goals for Angel Tree 2020:

  1. Build a virtual platform solution.
  2. Increase brand and campaign awareness to the public.
  3. Create an internal Angel Tree database of records.
  4. Strategize future digital campaigns through our Christmas campaigns.
  5. Reach 100% Angel Tree sponsorship.

With Angel Tree Romania only in it’s 3rd year, still an infant in this annual campaign for The Salvation Army, we needed to find a reliable strategy to achieve our goal of reaching 100% sponsorship, all while also trying to increase the number of children registered this year and while witnessing a decrease in initial sponsorships through partners.

We rely heavily on schools who partner with us for Angel Tree, but the current restrictions closed all schools throughout Romania, hitting us hard with success prior to launching the Angel Tree 2020 campaign.

Back in late summer we began research into various platforms that would be able to achieve a virtual experience, and settled on a template made by G-Lab Group and The Salvation Army Kentucky and Tennessee Division in the USA. After developing and implementing the setup, we began creating our strategy. Through this we were able to find a solution that allowed us to quickly adapt week to week between virtual and physical, ultimately relying on the virtual platform and increasing digital marketing.

We knew the need to utilize the virtual platform was becoming our most hopeful solution, and the idea is simple, transitioning the experience of a traditional physical tree and bringing it online, a transition all too known this year (physical to virtual). We identified and registered the angels from around Romania, our own locations and partner charities as well, logged everything into a new internal database for coordinating the latest progress and collaboration with internal staff to keep things on track, as well as provide effective communication as needed, and analyze the data to optimize digital marketing and strategies.

For the experience to the sponsors it’s still magical, the public can access the site, filter by gender or age if they prefer, and ‘adopt’ (sponsor) their angel (child), or multiple. They’ll receive automated messages to inform them of their angel’s wishes, as well as gentle reminders if they maybe lost track amidst the chaotic holiday season. They then visit their preferred place to shop, online or in person, and purchase the angel’s wishes, we all know that fulfilling experience of shopping for our angels, it’s a feeling that is never replaced. Once finished shopping for their gifts, they simply send it to us either dropping off in person or delivery through a courier or post to our office, and the week leading up to Christmas, we’ll sort and distribute to the families around Romania.

Joining us to donate expertise and their time assisting us in digital marketing was re7consulting, a marketing firm in Romania, Germany and other parts of the EU. Supporting us with trending keywords and creating ads and optimizing them, we successfully saw an increase in website traffic and search results via Google. There’s still more room to grow for us, but in a Communication & Development Department consisting of 1, we found better strategies to achieve our KPIs.

Lots of planning and development went into logistics for how to promote, digitally and physically, partnerships and individual connections and creating a reliable platform for Angel Tree Romania. Within the first week we already reached 40% of the virtual sponsorships and had a promise of 125 by the US Army, where they graciously setup a physical tree. We’re eager to see how the remainder of the season performs, but we couldn’t do it without support from our partners and accessibility to amazing technology.

So what are you waiting for? Go visit and sponsor an angel and/or donate financially to help cover the costs of the campaign or ‘forgotten angels’ (angels who’s sponsors forgot to return gifts, or angels that didn’t get sponsored). Together we Rescue Christmas!

State of Emergency COVID-19 Response

We promised transparency, and we did. We have been at the forefront in this period, aligning and meeting the needs of the most affected by the pandemic that has hit the world.

We have responded in new ways to new challenges!

Starting with March 2020, just before the establishment of the state of emergency and until now (end of state of emergency – May 15, 2020), the Romanian Salvation Army mobilized exemplary in the fight against the effects of the pandemic and its impact on the disadvantaged population in the localities where we operate and also of other nearby localities.

The support provided consisted of:

  • 2,358 emergency food aid;
    • Hot meals
    • Food packages
    • Sandwiches
  • 947 of people to whom we served food packages;
    • Most of these people were either elderly people who could not travel to buy necessities, or children and families from disadvantaged backgrounds or families in self-isolation due to returning from abroad.
  • 7,904 clothing and footwear distributed to people in difficulty;
  • 1,268 educational support sessions for disadvantaged children (lessons in Romanian, Mathematics, English and French, music and creative arts) held online through various platforms;
  • 650 support phone calls and emotional counseling for people in solitary confinement at home;
  • 140 social counselors;
  • 38 medical consultations offered on the street to homeless people;
  • 494 packages of hygiene products, sterile masks and medicines distributed on the street, to homeless people, but also to disadvantaged people;
  • 16 Support groups for different ages: children, young people, adults and seniors. (Prayer, Bible study, children’s club, Sunday school);
  • 700 of participants in online support groups;
  • 258 showers for the homeless and disadvantaged;
  • 140 plush toys offered to children from disadvantaged backgrounds;
  • 510 coffees and sweets;
  • drinking water,
  • furniture and small items that can have a major impact on the lives of those who are missing.

All these were obtained through the organization’s projects, sponsorships of companies or their employees (Amazon Romania, SOS Ploiești, ArhiDesign, Aprozărești Ploiești, 5toGo), own funds but also through hours of volunteering offered by brave and courageous people under the guidance of The Salvation Army officers and our employees.

How could the world change? Through every spontaneous gesture of kindness

In a world deeply marked by the presence of a virus that has managed to isolate us in a way difficult to anticipate so far, in April, The Salvation Army team arrived with gifts in the homes of 40 children around the Day Center Iași, all coming from vulnerable families.

This approach was possible thanks to the collaboration with the Romanian team of the Amazon company, which offered basic food, cakes and toys to all the little ones of our center in Iași on the eve of the Easter holidays.

In just two days these wonderful people lovingly thought and bought each gift given to the children and our social workers took the place of the heroes in the stories, delivering all the gifts in one day and receiving in return the smiles and hugs of these pure souls.

We thank and the special people from the Amazon Romania team for the solidarity you showed in supporting our approach.

You had the power to bring so much joy to some families tried during this period and for this gesture we also give you the expression of gratitude to these wonderful children!

Hope is greater than fear

We are in emergency because of this virus, Covid-19. It looks like an image taken from the movies. We continue to believe and hope that it is not real, that only too much is done, that we find excuses, that we can move to the online environment, exactly what we did not want, maybe we can avoid as much as possible, but, it is as real as possible and we are called to isolation, which makes everything very difficult, because man is created to socialize, to enjoy interpersonal relationships and to stay together!

However, the human being adapts quickly, God created us in a wonderful way!

Thus we have meetings and activities online, from young people and children, to adults and the elderly, who have adapted to modern times. We hold hands online and pray more than ever to see a future!

Our hope must be greater in this darkness that has been left over our world.

People need spiritual support as well as food and medicins. Several colleagues, officers and volunteers from the locations where the Salvation Army operates, have made huge efforts to reach those with such needs.

Salvation Army Mobile Team continues to look through Bucharest for homeless people, to help them reach the open shelters to receive them during the day.

The social laundry in Iași is open daily for the Rossetti center, the homeless people and the medical staff in hospitals. Everything is done with the necessary protection measures.

Because the school is not over and the children are still “going” to the online school, and we believe in continuing education, the SMART project has moved its after-school activities online. This is not only about education, but also about the need for a healthy socialization offered by our specialists, educators and social workers.

These days we are trying to remove the fear that has comprised humanity, with the hope we have in the good God. We do this through our actions and activities, taking all the protection and safety measures, obeying the recommendations given by the authorities and trusting God that #everythingwillbefine !

In closing, we quote a statement of the hope offered by Max Lucado, in his book “Unshakable Hope”.

“We are building our lives on the promises of God! Because his Word is unbreakable, our hope is unshakable. We do not stand on the problems of life or the pain in life. We stand on the great and precious promises of God.”

Ionuț and Roxy Sandu
Regional Leaders
The Salvation Army Romania

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Shine a Light on Slavery Day

Since the beginning of humanity, people have been bought, sold, and enslaved by other people. But one of the great collective triumphs of our world has been our ability to end slavery. Slaves themselves, along with people of faith, were at the forefront of challenging this evil practice.

Born out of the belief that even one person trapped in slavery is too many, #ENDITMOVEMENT is a coalition of the leading organizations in the world in the fight for freedom, including The Salvation Army. Each of our amazing coalition partners are doing the work, on the ground, everyday, to bring awareness prevention, rescue, and restoration. Joined by students and politicians, nonprofits and Fortune 500s, END IT is each of us standing for what’s right until the number of men, women, and children suffering in silence moves from 40 million, to ZERO.

In 2012, leaders from the very organizations in the world in the fight for freedom convened in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, bringing with them statistics and stories of the tens of millions trapped in slavery, presenting a staggering truth: most of the world knew NOTHING about the largest human rights issue of its time.

Out of that Freedom Summit, The END IT Movement emerged as a vehicle for awareness. The first step in addressing a problem is to admit you have one. The goal was clear; to leave no hiding place for slavery to exist unseen and unchallenged. The people of the world would begin shining a light on slavery.

Drawing a RED X on your hand may seem simple at first, but you’ll be amazed at the conversations it prompts with everyone from your boss to your barista; conversations that educate and inspire the people in your circles one by one. Afterall, action starts with awareness.

The Salvation Army’s international strategic plan to end slavery includes Awareness & Trainings, Prevention & Outreach, Survivor Services & Recovery and Partnership & Advocacy. Find out more information at

A Christmas Message from Captains Ionel & Roxana Sandu

Greetings from Romania,

On behalf of my wife and I, we wish a wonderful Christmas to you and your family. Romania exists because of a vision made into reality almost 20 years ago, and we couldn’t exist without the support from our communities, partners, volunteers, soldiers and officers. What a wonderful gift and friendship.

This year, 45 children to attend a camp in the summer, an educational retreat for our local officers, building projects at each of our 5 corps locations and missional outreach programs that help children and families around various communities. Also, we’ve successfully redesigned and launched our new website.

As we close 2018, we look back at the year and thank God and you, our family. This year, we’ve been able to continue operating programs like our Night Street Team in Bucharest, our 2 Youth Community Centres (Geneza Programme), begin 3 new education projects for integrating Roma & Romanian communities in need, music conservatories at a few of our corps, a mobile soup team in Craiova and so much more. Recently, we had truckloads of shoeboxes delivered from a team from the UK and a local Craiova company, ArhiDesign, donated school supplies and backpacks, together providing gifts to all the families in each community we serve across Romania.

For Christmas this year, we have a kettle ringing daily in one of our cities, and at each location will host a Christmas concert for the community. We’ve also launched our first year of Angel Tree in Bucharest, a partnership with a local private school that has their students & families sponsoring our angels, who are children from families in need and orphans.

We thank God for this past year as we look forward to 2019, when we will also celebrate our 20th anniversary of The Salvation Army in Romania. We look back at the progress made and look ahead to continue expanding our ministry of Dragoste și Grija (Love and Care). Again, we would like to wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas and a blessed New Year. And thank you for your support!

Keep up with us on Facebook, Flickr and

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!



Captains Ionel & Roxana Sandu
Romania Regional Leaders

First Christmas Message from General Brian Peddle

HOPE and transformation found in a personal relationship with Jesus are the hallmarks of General Brian Peddle’s first Christmas message as world leader of The Salvation Army. In his video address – available on his Facebook page (, YouTube and downloadable from Vimeo – he speaks of Jesus, who he describes as ‘all about justice, righteousness and salvation’, being ‘right here with us’ as someone who gives ‘words of wisdom and guides us into truth’.

Drawing upon words recorded in Isaiah 9, the General explains the message of hope in the Bible – the ‘hope of light and life which are only found in the promised Saviour’. Contrasting ‘dead ritualistic religion’ with a ‘vibrant, life-giving relationship’, the General proclaims that, for God, ‘nothing is impossible – he forgives sins, heals diseases and raises the dead.’

The General challenges Salvationists and friends to ‘trust God, rely on his power, live in relationship with him and partner with him to bring life, light and hope to our world.’

The video message – which is intended for sharing with friends and family members – has been made available to as many Salvationists and friends as possible through the addition of subtitles. More than 15 languages are available, including Spanish, French, Japanese, Korean and Chinese, thanks to the support of colleagues around the world.

The General has also recorded a New Year video message, which will be published on Monday 31 December.

EMAS Shares Christmas at Bucharest Shelter

The Salvation Army Mobile Team delivered bags of Christmas gifts to the homeless shelter in Bucharest last night. Inside each bag were supplies for those currently living in the shelter and warm soup and coffee or tea.

These individuals have a wide variety of stories and backgrounds who have found hope, refuge and warmth on these frigid nights in Bucharest. But best of all is knowing there are people who haven’t forgotten them for Christmas this year.

The Salvation Army Romania is proud to partner with this shelter throughout the year, delivering supplies and providing a hot soup, coffee and/or tea. May God bless them and continue to share the love this Christmas.

EMAS Christmas 2018

Mission Romania delivers shoeboxes

Every year a team of 7 drives 2 vehicles to Romania, full with shoeboxes for Christmas. 3500 miles and delivering to 5 centres. Each shoebox is donated and checked before delivering, ranging from infants to teenagers, boys and girls.

The team had the opportunity to deliver directly to a few families in each community, while the remainder are at each corps waiting to be delivered to children by local volunteers and administration.

AS MissionRomania Bucharest Christmas Gifts Delivery-9153

All these items are given freely by various people from churches and organisations in the UK to which the team are extremely grateful to all who help.

The team will also drop and deliver humanitarian aid which consists of mainly basic food items (Sugar, Oil Pasta, Rice, Cornflour, Biscuits) and warm blankets to aid them through the difficult and often cold winter months.

Keep up with them and follow their Facebook Page.

Mission Romania 2018