COVINGTON, Ind. — Under Harry Hoagland’s direction, the Salvation Army of Fountain County has grown over the years.

Seven years ago, the kettle campaign took in about $300; last year, the kettles and mailed-in donations hit $20,000.

Hoagland, 84, chairman of the advisory council, was honored this week by the state Salvation Army as the 2019 Volunteer of the Year.

Billie Kay, divisional service extension director with the Salvation Army in Indianapolis, told him, “It takes a community, but you were the vessel that made that happen.”

In all humility, however, Hoagland said, “I don’t deserve it. I accept on behalf of the volunteers in Fountain County.”

The presentation of a certificate and plaque was a total surprise to Hoagland, who planned to conduct an advisory council meeting as scheduled on Tuesday night. Even after Kay announced the honor, Hoagland still wanted to continue the meeting, she said.

There are 56 counties in Indiana without a Salvation Army church, and 76 units within those counties. Hoagland was competing with those 76 units, and was nominated by Nancy Wolfe, regional liaison.

As a Christian organization, Kay said in a telephone interview, the Salvation Army focuses on the fruits of the spirit.

Referring to Hoagland, she said in her 15 years in her position, “I’ve never seen anyone with so many fruits of the spirit — he’s gentle, kind, loving, patient, humble, all the things we want to be.

“He’s a very special person and I wanted to give him the award. He doesn’t understand what he does and how important it is.”

Hoagland said, “They feel that what I’m doing is consistent with the mission of the Salvation Army. That’s my motivation — to serve my fellow man in the name of Christ.”

He was honored by the award, and added, “I’ve never felt so humbled in my life. But it doesn’t happen without the people out there in the trenches. They make you look good.”

Seven years ago, when he joined the board, the kettle campaign raised about $300, and it rose steadily until it collected more than $11,000 in 2018. Last year, the advisory council decided to launch a letter campaign; that, along with the kettles, brought in $20,135.

Hoagland commended volunteer Sara Wheeler for doing a "masterful" job on making sure all of the kettle spots were filled. The campaign was six days short, due to the late Thanksgiving, so, he said, “We had some catching up to do. That’s where the mail campaign was a big help.”

He stressed that all of the money received by the Salvation Army stays in Fountain County to help people with emergency assistance.

“That money is designated to go into the hands of people who need it,” he said.

The Salvation Army expects to serve 250-300 people this year, including those in Covington, Veedersburg, Wallace, Kingman and Hillsboro. Attica is in Fountain County, but is part of the Warren County council.

“The Salvation Army is consistent with what I believe,” Hoagland said. “How can you love your neighbor in a better way and serve him than what the Salvation Army stands for?”

Hoagland said he’s had tremendous support from the advisory council, made up of 12-15 volunteers.

“My role is to keep the wheel going and keeping the wheel greased,” he said.

This year, the council plans to expand its role and services, and to take emergency training.

Hoagland, who worked in insurance for 45 years, is active in retirement.

“I just love Covington and the county,” he said. “Instead of sitting back, it’s payback time.”

He is a member of the Mount Hope Cemetery Board, the Fountain County Art Council and Covington High School Alumni Association, and founder of the school’s Wall of Fame. He also mentors students in middle school.

Recommended for you