Helping people comes first for the new captains of the Salvation Army.
Capts. Chas and Debbie Engel became the new commanding officers of the organization, 457 Market St., and want to focus on the Salvation Army's two goals.
"Preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and the other is reducing human suffering in a non-discriminatory way," Chas said.
Capts. Chas and Debbie Engel stand on the steps of Williamsport’s Salvation Army, 457 Market St. between Edwin and North streets. The clergyman and clergywoman join the congregation’s leadership from Delaware.
By not discriminating by a person's church or faith, it allows Salvation Army workers to help more people, even internationally, who need the help but do not want to hear the message.
"We're not going to push our beliefs," Chas said.
The captains served in Seaford, Del. for more than five years before relocating to Williamsport two weeks ago.
Debbie comes from a musical background before joining the Salvation Army. In Seaford, she tried to inspire the youth to take part in playing instruments. She wants to continue growing the music program at the organization.
Chas is a fourth generation Salvation Army officer.
"I belonged to the Salvation Army since I was born," he said. "It's in our family's blood. I was called to be a Salvation Army officer by God in 1966. It took me 40 years to do that."
In his years before answering the call, he learned about property, human resources and emergency disasters.
The Salvation Army as a whole helped in many disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina and the Haitian earthquake.
In the time that Chas has served, what sticks most in his mind is helping with last year's flooding as a result of Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Irene in Seaford.
While his job was to send out the emergency canteens with food, he said the volunteers came back with many stories about the people they helped.
"People were waiting on the side of the road for the canteen because if you didn't pull up, they didn't eat," Chas said.
Now in Williamsport, the captains want to help the community in whatever way necessary.
"We're very community minded," Debbie said. "We want to get to know what's needed. We don't want to duplicate."
They will continue to keep the programs the organization has to offer such as Project Break Through, which works to help people improve the economic self-sufficiency, as well as Camp Ladore, for children ages 7 to 12. Helping people with their electric bills and a flood closet also will continue.
Once they find the community unmet needs, they plan to start other programs, such as one to help people with their taxes.
One of their first events as commanding officers will be Salvation Army night at the Crosscutters baseball game Monday.
Those who donate two canned goods or non-perishable food items will receive $1 or half-price box seat tickets.
Before donating items, items should be checked to make sure they have not expired. Expired items cannot be used to help others, Debbie said.
While many people associate the Salvation Army with the ringing bells and red buckets during the holiday season, Chas said the money raised is used, in addition to food and toys, to help people year-round.
"Funds that come here don't go somewhere else," he said. "Donating to the Salvation Army is like donating to a neighbor."