Helping people when it matters most

HARLINGEN — All of his life, Maj. Ernest Lozano has been helping the Salvation Army to do the most good.

At 5, he was attending the local Salvation Army Church that he is now a minister of.

At 10, he recalls meeting President Lyndon B. Johnson when he toured one of the facilities of the Salvation Army after Hurricane Beulah in 1967 left many in the Valley in desperate need.

“The president shook my hand and told me we are very grateful for the work you’re doing to help these people in the time of need,” Lozano said.

Lozano, 59, recalls making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and ham sandwiches to help feed people in need who were living in the shelter where the Salvation Army was assisting after the Hurricane hit the Valley.

He was assisting his mother Celia Ramirez who helped the Harlingen Salvation Army. She was the Salvation Army Thrift Store manager for 39 years and she was in charge of coordination the distribution supplies for the Hurricane Beulah victims.

“I will always make it my priority to help others in the time of need,” Lozano said. “We rely on donations from the community to stock up our thrift store and to keep our pantry full.”

As co-majors of the Harlingen Salvation Army, Lozano and his wife Denise work together to make sure every rock is turned to find the resources needed to serve the community and assist people in need of food, clothing, medicine and other necessities.

The Lozano’s were appointed to Harlingen in June of 2016, and were Commissioned as Salvation Army Officers in June of 1989. They are in our 28th year of officership

This effort is why the Salvation Army is one of AIM Media Texas Charities’ 20 recipient agencies this year.

AIM Charities was founded three years ago by AIM Media Texas, which owns the Valley Morning Star, The Brownsville Herald, El Nuevo Heraldo, El Extra, The Monitor, Mid-Valley Town Crier and Coastal Current.

“When people donate to us, the funds are going to be used for what their needs may be,” Lozano said. “We are making sure we do our best to help those who come through our doors.”

People in Harlingen have been coming to the Salvation Army for many years for food, furniture, beds, clothing and more.

Last year, the Salvation Army helped about 6,500 people.

“You’ll be surprised when you don’t have something how important things, or food really are,” said Connie Rodriguez, a Salvation Army social worker.

Alma De La Cruz, 51, has been receiving assistance as a single mother from the Salvation Army for her family of six children since 1990.

Her two youngest still live with her at home and are attending school.

She said her 16-year-old son still reminds her to go pick up the food the Salvation Army provides for them.

And her daughter, 18, is gearing up to leave home to go away for college.

“I just come to the Salvation Army office and they go over my papers and they give me what I need,” De La Cruz said.

De La Cruz was 25 when a friend of hers recommended she visit the Salvation Army to get some assistance.

“Whenever I needed food, clothing, prescription drugs … and they helped me with my utilities,” De La Cruz said. “If they have the funds they will help anyone in need.”

She said the Salvation Army has been a blessing for her family.

“They have helped me a lot,” she said.

She said she has struggled over the years to raise her children and provide them with the food and things they needed.

She said she continued to receive help from the Salvation Army because often times she didn’t have a job or there just wasn’t enough money for her to provide for her family.

“I remember they gave me mattresses, fans, blankets, coats and food,” De La Cruz said. “I don’t know what I would do without the Salvation Army.”