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Volunteer spirit alive at Salvation Army luncheon

With its theme “Doing the Most Good,” the Salvation Army Williamsport Corps recognized this week in an appreciation luncheon that the army it has persists only because of dozens of contributing donors, volunteers and partners who each year provide massive amounts of assistance throughout Williamsport and Lycoming County.

“God blessed us by allowing us to exceed our goals for our Christmas bell ringing, Christmas breakfast, Festival of Trees, and other efforts throughout the Christmas season,” said Maj. Sheryl A. Hershey to nearly 100 guests gathered for the annual Salvation Army Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon at the Carriage House.

Among the guests were Mayor Derek Slaughter and County Commissioners Scott Metzger and Rick Mirabito along with others who got to listen to the selected live music by the Williamsport Brass Ensemble, while they dined on a fresh grilled chicken-accompanied salad prepared and served by Chef Hosch & Ann Catering.

The Salvation Army is able to return these blessings to the community, providing more than 500 local families, including more than 1,000 children, with food and toys this Christmas, and most Christmas and holidays.

Lt. Jaclyn Brewer expressed her appreciation and explained how she has been stationed at Williamsport for almost a year. Her eagerness has been getting involved with the Army’s Golden Ager program, which has reawakened her passion for older adult ministries.

The program gives senior citizens and those dependent on caregivers a place to gather, fellowship and have fun doing various activities. In a world that often forgets about the elderly in need, it gives them a place to belong.

Volunteerism and the spirit that goes with that

Mayor Derek Slaughter noted his appreciation for the Salvation Army, taking notice of it being an agency that mitigates food insecurity with its coordination with food pantries and food banks, has volunteers and staff who pack boxes of food during the holiday season and add joy to children’s faces with the annual toy distribution at Christmas.

The Salvation Army Williamsport Corps, 457 Market St., would not be much of an army at all — were it not for many dedicated volunteers.

Each year, more than 300 local volunteers bless the Williamsport Corps and those serve by giving generously of their time and talents.

The volunteers show up to serve on the advisory board, work in the Salvation Army pantry, thrift store, gym, and Red Shield Community Garden, which provides fresh produce and helps to feed individuals who otherwise could not receive such nutritious available local produce.

Salvation Army gives guidance to youth, spends time with senior citizens in its Golden Agers program, has music programs and supports many Christmastime programs and services.

Over the past two years, the city and region experienced the impact of non-profits not being able to function at full capacity due to pandemic but he remained humbled by volunteers, such as those who assist the Salvation Army and its mission, along with those who volunteer in the city and county for boards, commissions and authorities.

Major Terry Wood, Divisional Secretary for Business — The Salvation Army’s Eastern PA and Delaware Divisional Headquarters, Philadelphia, also gave his sincerest appreciation to the donors, volunteers and partners of the Salvation Army.

Challenging times, stepping up to plate

In a time of economic need as great as ever the Salvation Army in Williamsport responds to individuals and families in crisis.

While the primary objective remains to meet people “where they are,” and to deliver a range of services to help them change their lives from inside out, the Army is committed to serving the whole person — mind, body and spirit with integrity and respect, to transform lives.

A 3.5% increase and now maybe higher in grocery costs, alone, has created significant hardship for many households.

The food pantry is open to all three days a week and the mission remains – that nobody goes hungry.

Inflation, however, has not been limited to food. Energy costs increased 4.3% last year and continued to be steeper this winter. This is the largest increase in the nation since 2008.

Although finances are finite, Rose Confer, the social services coordinator, assists people through emergencies.

Besides adding a sense of natural beauty to Park Avenue, the Red Shield Community Garden helps low-income residents with food provision and to build pride by growing vegetables used in food distribution.

Anyone can volunteer in the food pantry, thrift store work, Red Shield Garden, Golden Agers, music programs, Troops programs, back to school backpack distribution, Challenge Race, Festival of Trees, Bell Ringing, Christmas Applications, packing of toys, sorting and packing of food, and adopt a family. The list goes on when volunteering for the Salvation Army, Hersey said.

Volunteer groups, individual volunteers and community partnership recognized

Laura L. Templeton, Salvation Army Williamsport Corps public relations and resource development director, took individual photographs of the award winners.

For outstanding contributions in 2021-2022 the following awards were presented:

• Festival of Trees: People’s Choice Award — Trail Inn, Cogan Station. Nicky Gough, Proprietor.

• Festival of Trees: Best of the Festival Award — Professional Lawn and Landscaping Co., Montoursville. Bill Forest, Owner.

• Angel Tree Award: Auto Trakk, LLC, Montoursville

• Angel Tree Award: DeWald Chiropractic, Williamsport

• Red Kettle Sponsor Award: M&T Bank

• Red Kettle Sponsor Award: Webb Weekly, Jim Webb, Owner.

• Service Club Bell Ringer Award: South Williamsport Lions Club

• Service Club Bell Ringer Award: Masons Ivy Lodge 106, Williamsport

• Counter Kettle Award: Dollar General, Washington Blvd, Williamsport

• Outstanding Counter Kettle Coordinator: Curt Fink, Williamsport

• Outstanding Volunteer: Brittany Bailey, Williamsport

• Outstanding Volunteer: Bea Brown, Montoursville

• Outstanding Volunteer: James Knight, South Williamsport

• Timothy Heffler Memorial Award: Ada Rearick, Williamsport

• Timothy Heffler Memorial Award: Tina White, Williamsport

• Community Partner Award: National Giving Alliance (NGA), Newberry Chapter

• Community Partner Award: Project Linus, Central Susquehanna Valley Chapter

• Community Partner Award: Williamsport Area School District

Newly Installed Advisory Board Members:

• Curt Fink, Williamsport

• Dan Hoffman, Trout Run

• James Knight, South Williamsport

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