OSWEGO, NY – Lower food supplies and high demand have mobilized the Oswego Salvation Army to embark on a Holiday Brown Bag Food Drive Nov. 26 through Dec. 17 to help meet the growing need of food for the hungry.
The Army is asking the community to donate grocery bags of non-perishable food for the holidays and drop those donations off at several participating businesses in the area that will go directly toward the ArmyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s food supplies.
Tough economic times are taking their toll on millions of Americans and their families as they struggle to make ends meet and feed themselves and their families.
In Oswego, Salvation Army Captain Ken Hayes said he has seen a dramatic increase in the number of people coming to the Salvation Army suffering from hunger.
When he came to Oswego in 2000, he said the Army served anywhere between 700-1,200 meals a month.
Today, they serve about 2,100 meals a month and the number is rising.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIn eight years the demand for food has tripled,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Captain Hayes said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œAt the same time resources have dropped. Stores have closed and that impacts our yearly holiday kettle drive because we have fewer places to ring our bells.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Store closings will also impact this yearÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s resources with the pending closure of the P&C grocery store in early December.
Last year, P&C took on its own brown bag drive where customers could purchase a $5 bag of groceries that would be donated directly to the Oswego Salvation Army.
The store sold 1,100 bags worth $5,500. Although the store is doing the same thing this year, its efforts will end when the store closes.
At the same time, donations taken in for the annual kettle drive at the P&C totaled $7,500 last year and although the kettles are at the store, they too will close down when the store closes.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ve had tremendous support from Judy Whitford at P&C over the years as we have had from many other local stores that have had to close their doors,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â said Captain Hayes. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œBecause of their due diligence over the years, we must work harder to make up for their absence and meet our communityÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s growing needs.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
These immediate needs are reflective of larger ones the Army plans to meet with the move to a new, larger facility on West Second Street early next year.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe current building we are in simply can no longer accommodate what we are doing,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â said Captain Hayes. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œAt our busy times during the day, there are just too many people here and we have to squeeze in our supplies anywhere we can. The new building will allow us to serve the increasing numbers of people who come through our doors, and expand the services and programs we offer.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
A community-wide capital campaign will kick off its public phase in mid December and board members are preparing for their appeal.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe Salvation Army has the huge role of taking on a crisis when no one else will,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â said Shane Stepien, president of Step One Creative, a participating holiday brown bag business drop off location in Oswego. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThis organization will never turn down someone in need, but in order to be able to assist in the best way possible, we have to have the resources in place to meet those needs.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
The Salvation Army suggests the following items (preferably stored in unbreakable containers) for their current Holiday Brown Bag Drive:
Instant Jello or pudding
Canned soup (chicken noodle)
Canned vegetables (especially corn and beans)
Donated bags can be dropped off at the following participating locations:
The Oswego Salvation Army (85 West Third Street)
Step One Creative
PaulÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Big M
Bosco and Gears
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.
For more information about the Oswego Salvation Army, visit http://oswegosa.com or call 343-6491.