OSWEGO, NY – As the Oswego Salvation Army continues to manage growing community needs with limited resources, it has come to rely on the partnerships it has formed with groups that provide consistent support.
Through the years, Captain Kenneth Hayes said SUNY Oswego has become a constant source of help.
With each new group of students who come to the Port City for school, the Salvation Army receives a new group of eager volunteers.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWe get a lot of support from the college,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Hayes said. He noted that the support comes through in many forms.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œOne of the things they do that has become very important to us is helping out with our after-school program,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Hayes said.
The after-school program operates each week from approximately 3:30 to 5 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe SUNY students help us with that a great deal,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Hayes said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThey oversee the programming and interact with the students. It has become very successful.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Hayes noted that the SUNY Oswego students typically help with the program for a semester, though some have worked their schedules out to volunteer for the entire school year.
Hayes noted the benefits of having college students involved with the program, especially for needs like homework assistance.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThey are certainly better at that than we are, they also do things like play games with the kids, including air hockey and ping pong, and do various craft projects. The kids really enjoy it.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
In addition to the after-school program, Hayes said the Salvation Army receives a substantial amount of support from the college community for the annual Red Kettle Campaign.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œA lot of fraternities and sororities are involved in that,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â he said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œOne sponsors an entire day. Another group takes every evening shift for a week to man a kettle.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Hayes said that the Army has seen many student volunteers because of classes and dorms that require community service projects.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe students help out at the building and in the soup kitchen,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â he said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThey also do different things like food drives and fundraising activities for us. When the students leave for Christmas break or summers, food items that are kept in dorms are usually gathered and donated to us, as well. It is very helpful.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
According to Alyssa Amyotte, coordinator of Service Learning and Community Service at SUNY Oswego, the benefits of the relationship the college has with the Salvation Army is give-and-take.
The Service Learning and Community Service Office at the college oversees approximately 15,000 community service hours each year. Amyotte said approximately 1,100 students take on community service projects through the school year.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œA lot of the students come to us and want to volunteer,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â she said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œBut if the Salvation Army called us and said they had a need, we would organize it.”
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe Salvation Army does so much,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Amyotte added. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIf students come in and are interested in doing that type of work, it makes it easy for us to assign it because the programs are already established there.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
In some cases, Amyotte said she believes the student volunteers get more from the opportunities than the Salvation Army does.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe students who come in wanting to volunteer already have that sense of how important it is to give back to the community,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Amyotte said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œBut when they are required to do it for a class or for a residence hall, the experience helps them to realize how important helping is. They see the need for it and, hopefully, make it part of their lives even after school.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Hayes pointed out that the food service program at the college often donates bulk foods that it canÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t keep until the students return.
The college also donates materials and furniture items that are left over after renovation projects, he said. 50 tables were recently donated for use at the new facility.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWe are very pleased and grateful for all of the support we receive from the college,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Hayes added.
As the Salvation Army prepares to move into its new space, Hayes said there will be even more opportunities to welcome students from the college.
Earlier this year, the Oswego Salvation Army announced that it is re-energizing its ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI BelieveÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â campaign to help fund the new infrastructure and services that will be offered at the future location at the New York State Labor Department building (previously home to the Super Duper grocery store) on West Second Street.
Prompted by the need for more space, the Salvation Army began looking for a larger building approximately seven years ago.
Since the search first began, Salvation Army board members say the numbers of people who seek assistance through the Army has doubled.
The Oswego Salvation Army is part of the International Salvation Army organization, which is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church.
The local citadel provides food, education, services and spiritual support to the local community.
The Oswego Salvation ArmyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“s ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI BelieveÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â campaign will help with renovations and expanded services at the new building, the former New York State Labor Department on West Second Street.
Information about the Oswego Salvation Army and progress updates on the new facility are available at http://oswegosa.com or by calling (315) 343-6491.