GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - It's a message Lieutenant James Dillingham hopes the community will take to heart as he takes over his new post.
"Our hearts and our doors are open to all that will come in," Lt. Dillingham said.
Dillingham comes to the coast from Atlanta. He is a first-time officer in the Salvation Army. He will oversee operations in Harrison and Hancock counties. The Hancock County location, which was set up as a temporary relief site after Hurricane Katrina, has closed.
"Prior to Katrina all of the social services were held in this office in Gulfport. What we've done is we've gone back to a normal operating procedure here. We're not limiting any support whatsoever," Dillingham said.
Dillingham arrives just as the organization is adding some new tools to better serve the community, especially during emergencies. As a former first responder, Dillingham knows first hand the importance of having the right resources in emergency situations. He's excited to see the addition of a new mobile emergency unit to his fleet in Harrison County.
"It is amazing. We have a brand new emergency mobile feeding kitchen that we call a canteen," Dillingham said.
The canteen can serve up to 5,000 people. It comes fully equipped with a convection oven, deep fryer, two refrigerators, sinks and storage space for meals.
But the hot meals aren't limited to emergency situations. Dillingham said now more than ever, the Salvation Army needs donations to keep its pantries full and people fed.
"If you've ever thought about supporting or partnering with the Salvation Army, now is the time. We need your help," Dillingham said.
The Salvation Army is in the process of replacing many of its old canteens. Jackson County should be getting a new one sometime next month.