OSWEGO, NY – Earlier this year, six-year old Emma Hyde and her mother, Laura, were up watching the news program 20/20 in their Scriba home when a report came on about poverty-stricken families in Appalachia.
Being from a home where meals are always available and electricity is a way of everyday life, the families in the report who did not have electricity and considered fruits and vegetables Ã¢â‚¬Å“luxuryÃ¢â‚¬Â items, it was difficult for Emma to understand why people were living this way.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I explained to her that not everyone had all of the things that we have, even in our own community,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Laura. Ã¢â‚¬Å“She was very concerned about it and wanted to give them food to eat.Ã¢â‚¬Â
ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s when Emma declared she had a good idea.
She suggested that instead of presents for her birthday on March 27, she would have people bring food items that could be given to those who needed it.
The Oswego Salvation Army was the first place the Hydes thought of when they thought about helping local families.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Emma has always been very empathetic so when she made the suggestion, I wanted to make sure we followed through,Ã¢â‚¬Â Laura said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I called the Salvation Army to see what they needed.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The need was great. According to local Army officials, with a lagging economy, the Army has seen more families in need, and fewer able to make donations.
Laura did follow through on EmmaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s concerns.
They asked those who came to her party to bring food donations and collected additional donations from friends and family door to door.
While they did send some of the items to Appalachia, they also brought additional items to the Oswego Salvation Army.
Although Emma is a typical, shy six-year old, she said she was happy that people donated food.
She said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s important to help others.Ã¢â‚¬Â
This is a message that is at the heart of the Oswego Salvation Army.
Captains Ken and Corrine Hayes of the Oswego Salvation Army see donations come in often, but were struck immediately by EmmaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s gift.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“People who are able to give what they can are always welcome here, but when a child gives up something like birthday gifts in order to give to someone else, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s special,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Corrine Hayes. Ã¢â‚¬Å“If she could make this decision, we hope others can give what they can as well.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Although Emma asked for donations instead of gifts, she did receive traditional birthday gifts as well, but the success of the food donations made her think of others ways people might be able to help others.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“People could plant banana and apple trees and pick them and give them to people,Ã¢â‚¬Â she said.
EmmaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s twin brother, Eric, suggested planting corn.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“They are both very caring kids,Ã¢â‚¬Â Laura said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Both of their teachers always comment on how kind they are in class. In some ways, a comment like that is even better than or just as good as an Ã¢â‚¬ËœAÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ in any other subject.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Although the ideas are simple and direct, according to Hayes, they are very much in line with the direct way the Salvation Army assists those in need in the community with immediate and long-term needs.
Food, friendship, support and counseling are all a part of the ArmyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mission.
The Hydes visited the Salvation ArmyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s food pantry when they donated the food they collected.
They are also interested in having Emma and Eric help out in the ArmyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s soup kitchen.
Donations to the Army are making new features and services available according to Hayes.
Additional educational program offerings; expanded food storage, preparation and eating areas; a renovated fellowship hall and worship area; wheelchair accessibility; a private interviewing area, classrooms, conference rooms and staff offices are some of the improvements being made through the ArmyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s current capital campaign.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“They really want to help others and we want to encourage that,Ã¢â‚¬Â Laura said.
Laura and her husband, Eric Sr., have also had family discussions recently about donating clothing in the fall and having a yard sale where they donate a portion of the proceeds to agencies like the Salvation Army.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think one thing that is important from a parentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s perspective is to listen to your children,Ã¢â‚¬Â Laura said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Comments like EmmaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s can pass by without a notice, but if you stop and make something from the thought; it takes on a new meaning for you and your child. Everyone could use a helping hand at some point in their lives.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Eric Sr. is a security guard at the FitzPatrick Nuclear Plant in Scriba and agrees with his wife.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It blew me away when I heard what Emma wanted to do with her birthday,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are very happy she suggested it and it became a family project. We were very happy to give what we could, and what Emma and Eric could to for the Salvation Army.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Hayes said it takes the support and generosity of people like the Hydes to be able to lend that helping hand.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If a young child like Emma Hyde can find a way to give something back to the community, we all can find some way to give back, either by a donation, or volunteering time,Ã¢â‚¬Â she said.
Oswego Salvation Army Board member and Capital Campaign chair Mercedes Niess said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Emma is an inspiration to everyone in the community to give what they can. Any donation to those in need is appreciated and needed in these uncertain economic times. We appreciate EmmaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s contribution and hope others will follow her lead.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Over the years IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve served the Salvation Army, the number of people using our kitchen and food pantry has tripled,Ã¢â‚¬Â Niess added. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are re-energizing our Ã¢â‚¬ËœI BelieveÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ campaign to help fund renovation if the facility and the expansion of services at our newly opened building, the former New York State Labor Department building on West Second Street. EmmaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s contribution helps us help others.Ã¢â‚¬Â
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 ArmyÃ¢â‚¬Ëœs Ã¢â‚¬Å“I BelieveÃ¢â‚¬Â campaign continues to raise funds for necessary renovations for its new facility on West Second Street.
To find out more on how you can help the Salvation Army reach it capital campaign goals, call (315) 216-4161.
For more information on the Oswego Salvation Army, visit http://oswegosa.com