Territorial Kroc Center Highlight: Camden Kroc CenterWith a legacy of over 140 years of service in the Camden area, The Salvation Army continues to provide engaging programming and transformative spiritual care to the community through the Camden Kroc Center.
The Salvation Army has been serving the people of Camden since 1880 with a broad array of social services and assistance, and, in October 2014, The Salvation Army opened the doors to a new Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center. The Kroc Center is a 125,000 square-foot facility that was formerly a landfill and has since been converted into a wonderful asset right in the residential neighborhood of Cramer Hill. In the years since it has opened, the Camden Kroc Center has become a beacon for the community and has been identified as the “anchor institution” for the surrounding neighborhood. They have a wide range of rich programming, and the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t slow them down.
In the Christmas season of 2020, the Camden Kroc launched the “Christmas Railroad,” a means of engaging with families with a drive-through experience. They served nearly 1,500 families that year with an introduction to the train conductor, a hot cocoa kit and candy cane for the family, prayer, a family picture, a food box and a meeting with Santa Claus, while covertly delivering gifts for each child into the trunk of each car. When Angel Tree was brought back for the 2021 season, the successful Christmas Railroad was incorporated into the proceedings to provide that same blessing.
Similar drive-through concepts were applied to other programs at the Kroc Center. They did drive-through dinner events, book fairs and coat drives. During the pandemic, they used drive-throughs and a mobilized food pantry to distribute over one million pounds of food.
In February of 2021, one of the first COVID-19 vaccination sites in the area was opened at the Camden Kroc in coordination with Cooper University Health Care. As a place trusted by the community, the Kroc Center was a great location to not only provide access to the COVID-19 vaccine, but to simultaneously create a community setting where residents could go to learn more about the vaccine. Up to 500 residents per day were vaccinated at the peak of the pandemic, and the 10,000th shot was celebrated in May 2021. The clinic continues weekly at the center.
In 2022, Camden Kroc will hold their 7th annual Garbage Bag Gala Fashion Show in partnership with Drexel’s Westphal College of Media Art and Design and former “Project Runway” contestant Nancy Volpe Beringer. Recycled materials transform into gorgeous garments in a high energy show and fundraiser. The Garbage Bag Gala is one-of-a-kind “trashion” event showcasing students, Salvation Army employees and officers, and professional designers — all in support of The Salvation Army’s goal of transforming lives within their community.
Camden Kroc has had many diverse themes for teen nights over their years of service. One of the most creative was branded “Holy Ground Café & Christian Club” which attracted over 200 young people per event. Each night included praise and worship, fellowship and fun. Teens would also enjoy the water park, open gym, teen room and snacks. Camden Kroc was also able to bring on several known Christian rappers as top-billed talent to add to the excitement.
With a legacy of over 140 years of service in the Camden area, The Salvation Army continues to provide engaging programming and transformative spiritual care to the community through the Camden Kroc Center.