CHICAGO (CBS) — The Salvation Army says there is a critical, and immediate, need for volunteers who are willing to be deployed to disaster areas.

On Saturday, 18 such volunteers were trained at the organization’s Emergency Disaster Training facility in Elk Grove Village.

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Brenda McSwine, who is leading the classes, said they were originally scheduled for later in the year. However, since Hurricane Harvery and Hurricane Irma hit, McSwine said there has been an influx of volunteers. “So we took it upon ourselves to prepare those volunteers right away.”

Among the volunteers is George Sachs, a licensed attorney from Arlington Heights.

“In the middle of all the chaos, you need to have structure — you need to have training. And this provides the very basic foundation to get people oriented,” Sachs said.

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29-year-old Alicia Johnson from Forest Park also attended Saturday’s training, who said, “This is actually my first time doing any type of disaster relief. I feel like as long as I ‘m an able body and can get out there, I should help people and serve the community.”

If participants go through the entire process, they will be fully trained to operate mobile kitchens and could be deployed as early as next week. Those kitchens can feed up to 1,500 people a day.

The Salvation Army is hosting another training session Saturday, Sept. 16 at the same facility, 1000 Pratt Blvd., from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. All courses are free and open to the public.

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Two additional classes will be held on:

  • Saturday, Sept. 16 from 8 a. m. to 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 12 from noon to 3 p.m.