Majors Eric and Tony Roberts, directors of the local Salvation Army, will be transferred to Columbus, Miss. in June. -- File Photo

Roberts receive their orders from Salvation Army

Published 12:13am Tuesday, May 15, 2012

For the past four years, Majors Tonya and Eric Roberts of The Salvation Army have lent helping hands to the community by way of their popular spaghetti plate and donut sales, to the annual Angel Tree at Christmas. And now, the couple will “do the most good” for others in a new location: Columbus, Miss. The couple’s final day in Selma will be June 17.

For the Roberts, who received the call about their new duty station earlier this month, the move is bittersweet.

“We had mixed feelings at first. We were sad to say goodbye to people in Selma,” Eric said. “Our kids grew up here, they have their friends here. We were excited but saddened … it’s a promotion for us; it’s not goodbye — it’s so long.”

The Roberts must be at their new assignment by Wednesday, June 20. Majors Steven and Mary Welch will be the incoming corps officers for the Selma area.

“We’ve been to visit [the area] before, we know a little bit more about it,” Eric said. “The person that is there, has to go to another appointment and they thought it be good for us. We’ll have the same, yet different duties. [In Selma], we were limited with staff; there, we’ll have the same responsibilities but we’ll have staff that will be helping us.”

Core Sgt. Maj. Betty Ruth Goodman, who has known the Roberts since they first arrived, said the couple will be truly missed.

“I really hate to see them go,” Goodman said. “They’re just good people and they’re good to work with. They’re good workers with the people. We’re losing good officers.

“I really love them so much,” Goodman said. “They’re good Christian, holy people. They just don’t ‘talk the talk’ but they ‘walk the walk.’ I’m sure Columbus will be blessed with them too.”

Overall, Eric and Tonya said they would miss the place they’ve called home for quite some time. And though they won’t know the length of their stay in Columbus, Eric said he hopes he and Tonya can stay a while, continuing to reach out to the community through the love of God.

“We really enjoyed working here in the Selma community and our time here,” Eric said. “The ministry has really been productive. We appreciate the support of the Selma community.”

The couple plans to have a Father’s Day service on June 17 inside The Salvation Army church; a small reception will follow.

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