By: Becky Kreienkamp, Midland Division
There are many heroes in the world, and Cliff Harris is definitely one of them. Cliff has the strength of ten men; more like ten siblings.
As the oldest, Cliff has his hands full, but he never sees his siblings as an inconvenience.
“It’s not much of a burden as it is a privilege,” remarks Cliff in regards to his siblings.
Last year, the Harris family had trouble providing for themselves, but Cliff stepped up to save his brothers and sisters. He let the younger siblings live in his home, while the elder siblings sent food and money when they were able.
When hope seemed lost, Cliff turned to The Salvation Army’s Maplewood food pantry.
This food pantry soon became a place of refuge for Cliff and his siblings; however, his future did not always look so bright.
“There were a lot of sad nights, wondering where we were going to eat,” admits Cliff, “we were coming here [The Salvation Army] once a month, but sometimes it wasn’t enough.”
Cliff never lost hope; always soldiering on for his brothers and sisters.
“It’s my family. If I have to bite the bullet, I’ll do that,” said Cliff with a determined look, but he admits it was difficult at first, as he had to deal with an inner battle of emotions.
“It’s either them, [my siblings] or my pride. And I chose them. I was hesitant to come into a food pantry, but I had to remind myself I had other people depending on me.”
The Salvation Army has given more than food to Cliff’s family for the past year. For Christmas, they received vouchers for toys, so the younger siblings could have a joyous holiday even during their difficult circumstances.
Their situation also allowed for a new friendship to grow between Cliff and Ronita Summit, caseworker at The Salvation Army’s Maplewood location. She offered Cliff advice on how to get back on the right track. As a result of Ronita’s wisdom, Cliff now has a steady job at Hardee’s and he has a potential second job at a warehouse, which is the type of hands-on work he truly enjoys. Cliff keeps in touch with Ronita, and continues to call her if his family ever needs help.
It’s no surprise Cliff has turned his family’s life around for the better. He is, after all, his siblings’ super hero.
“They look at me as the superman,” he says with a laugh.
Cliff’s super powers are carried out daily. If any younger sibling has a problem, whether it’s boyfriend trouble or difficulty in school, they reach out to Big Brother Cliff. He uses his super strength to make sure his siblings are fed, educated, out of trouble, and strong in their faith with the Lord. He reads the Bible with his siblings every day, and ensures they attend church.
The other eldest siblings are also heroes, as they continue to send food and money when needed. The second oldest brother, with whom Cliff has an especially close relationship, is extremely helpful when taking care of the youngsters. Cliff is definitely not alone in his Big Brother duties as the other eldest siblings, The Salvation Army, and God are always by his side.
Cliff and his siblings are in a good place now. A steady income and food supply are flowing into the home, the young ones are enjoying school, and Cliff has plans to marry his fiancé in September.
Cliff is incredibly grateful for The Salvation Army volunteers who brought order to his family’s life, and in return he has some kind words to say about this organization.
“If there are people doubting agencies such as The Salvation Army, I’m here to correct it as best I can,” he says in all humbleness, “There are people that really do care, and you can sense that. Any way that they can help, they do it. And it’s appreciated.”
Join The Salvation Army’s “Turn Up The Heat On Hunger” campaign to help #ENDHUNGER in St. Louis.
Stop by participating Walmart locations and make a food donation July 13, 14 and 15. Food bins will be available at each entrance or make a donation online.