OSWEGO, NY – The Salvation Army of Oswego County has a Herculean task ahead of it this month. And, they have the Best man on the job.
Major Richard Best served as the leader of the Oswego Salvation Army until the spring of 2000. By a twist of fate, he is back in the Port City for a while just as the Salvation Army is preparing its first ever county-wide red kettle drive.
The Salvation Army first opened its doors in Oswego in 1893, and has been in continuous operation ever since.
This summer, the Salvation Army realigned itself to create one unit for the entire county with its headquarters being at the Oswego Citadel.
Major James and Major Kathryn Purvis relocated from Elmira and were officially installed during a ceremony in early July.
“I am trying to assist the good major with the Christmas work,” Best explained. “We have to generate a good chunk of money. There is no set goal this year; but the funds from the kettle program do represent a large part of our revenues for the year. This will be the first time we have coordinated a kettle drive for the entire county from one central location.”
With the Red Kettle campaign under way, the search for bellringers is a priority for The Salvation Army of Oswego County.
The Salvation Army, so far, will be locating kettles at more than a dozen businesses.
The sites include, in Oswego: Paul’s Big M, JC Penney, Price Chopper, Kinney Drugs and Wal-Mart (two doors); in Fulton: Price Chopper, Struppler’s Market, Save-A-Lot and Wal-Mart (two doors); in Pulaski at Alan’s Hometown Market and Tops; in Mexico at the Big M; in Hannibal at the IGA; and in Central Square at Wal-Mart.
There is a kettle drive planned in Phoenix, Best said, adding that it will be handled by the high school.
“Those are the stands that we have currently in those communities. We can use more, everywhere,” he said. “Everything comes through our office and we hook them up. But, one of the big issues is having enough volunteers.”
This would be something good for church groups, athletic teams, civic clubs, or any other groups or individuals, Best said.
The hours are flexible, he added.
“We can work with the volunteers as far as hours. I just signed up a Boy Scout group. Two hours, four hours, whatever works for them,” he said.
The Rotary Club has taken several hours at a kettle site; they have enough members that they can cover it, the major pointed out.
“This is our first county-wide effort. Majors Purvis are doing a good job, but we can use the extra help. The (advisory) board is helping,” he said. “We want to make this as successful as possible.”
Volunteer bellringers are key to a successful campaign in the county. Individuals, groups and businesses who make a personal commitment and sacrifice to ring the bells are the direct reason why the Salvation Army can provide services locally, the major noted.
The Red Kettle Campaign is the most important fundraiser of the year for the Salvation Army. Money raised is used to provide local services and to help families in crisis throughout the year.
The kettle sites at the grocery stores get started Nov. 16; the other sites get under way the following Friday, the major said.
For more information, call the Salvation Army at 343-6491 (from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., or leave a message).
Further information is also available at [email protected]