Oswego Salvation Army Sets 125th Anniversary Breakfast Celebration

Oswego Salvation Army volunteer cook, Jim Allen, serves dinner to a client. The food was left over and donated from a local event.
Oswego Salvation Army volunteer cook, Jim Allen, serves dinner to a client. The food was left over and donated from a local event.

The Oswego Corps of The Salvation Army cordially invites the community to breakfast on Wednesday, November 9, at 8:00 A.M., at The American Foundry, 246 West Seneca Street, to celebrate 125 years of service in Oswego. Individual tickets and corporate tables are available and can be arranged by calling 315-343-9692. Reservations should be made by October 31. Proceeds of the breakfast will support the services of the Army in Oswego. Proclamations from the County and City will be presented and Major Donald Hostetler, Commander of the Empire State Division of The Salvation Army, will address the gathering.

The Salvation Army was started by the Reverend William Booth in London in 1865. It arrived in the United States fifteen years later and first appeared in Oswego on October 23, 1886, when its first meeting, led by Captain Pethie, was held here. Its arrival was not greeted enthusiastically, especially by the daily newspaper, the Oswego Palladium, which editorialized: “The Salvation Army . . . has at last succeeded in securing a foothold in Oswego, and henceforth our citizens may expect to be treated to tambourine playing, shouting and exhortations such as but few have been permitted to listen to. . . . We hope the police will control the ‘hoodlum element’ which will doubtless attend the meetings.” Thankfully, relations and understanding have improved over the years and now the police often refer people to The Salvation Army for assistance.

A significant development in Salvation Army history in Oswego concerns an officer named Helen Purviance. She came to the Oswego Corps in 1913 and remained until 1924. In 1917, during World War I, Adjutant Purviance was sent to France to work with the American First Division. She and a fellow Salvationist, Ensign Margaret Sheldon, became aware of the loneliness and homesickness of the soldiers and they hit upon the idea of making and serving doughnuts to remind them of home. They had to improvise with a wine bottle for a rolling pin and tin can, lamp chimney, and a percolator top for cutters. In fact, they first cut the dough into strips and twisted them into crullers. Purviance could only fry seven doughnuts at a time and had to kneel in front of a potbellied stove to do it. Even so, by working into the night, they were able to serve 150 doughnuts that first day. As they were able to find better equipment, they were eventually serving 9,000 doughnuts daily and other Salvationists were doing the same thing in other areas of the front lines. Purviance was honored by the American Legion for “Humanitarian service and fearless and unswerving devotion to her cause.” As a result of her creative work, the serving of doughnuts and coffee on battlefields and at other times of distress has become a symbol of the humanitarian work of The Salvation Army. Along with the red kettle and familiar shield, it is recognized by people around the world.

If you would like to know more about The Salvation Army or offer your services as a volunteer call 343-6491 or stop at the office at 73 West Second Street, Oswego. There are opportunities for individuals, families, and organizations to stand with the Salvation Army Christmas kettles.