Salvation Army preps for Christmas

MARIETTA – As the Salvation Army prepares for its typically busy Christmas season, the organization has also been planning some services to help fill the void left by the recent closure of their longtime thrift store in Marietta.

“We had a lot of people use that store,” said Becky Place, Salvation Army case worker and former manager of the store at its Greene Street location.

Citing the high costs of rent, utilities, trash pickup and other expenses, representatives from the Salvation Army’s Cincinnati headquarters announced last month that Oct. 31 would be the store’s last day.

A lot of people relied on the store for clothing, which is why Place and others at the Salvation Army have been planning a pared down replacement, said Major Karen Garrett.

“We’re setting up a clothing closet here at the Salvation Army (office on Front Street)…It’s only one small room so it’s a much smaller scale,” she said.

The small room will contain a few racks of clothing and will be open two days a week, starting the second week in January.

Tentatively the organization expects to accept donations for the store Mondays and Tuesdays and open the store Wednesdays and Thursdays. Those who want to bring donations should call the Salvation Army and make arrangements first, said Place.

Like the thrift store, people will be able to come inside and shop and vouchers will be available for those needing clothing who fall below 150 percent of the federal poverty level, said Place.

Closing the thrift store was a tough and long thought-out decision, said Major Timothy Lyle, divisional secretary for the Salvation Army headquarters in Cincinnati.

However, he is confident that new programs, such as the clothing closet, and continuing Salvation Army services will hopefully help ease the change for families that relied on the store for affordable clothing, furniture and more.

“Certainly at Christmas they are still going to be helping a lot of families,” said Lyle of the local organization.

As always, families can apply for Christmas assistance through the end of November, said Garrett. Last year, the Salvation Army helped around 270 families in Washington County and a handful in Morgan County, she said.

Angel Trees, where people choose and purchase a gift for a child in need, are currently in the process of being set up in Wal-Mart, Kmart, Prime Steak and Seafood, American Flags and Poles and the First Presbyterian Church in Marietta.

For the first time this year the Salvation Army also has a Food Angel Tree set up at Kroger on Acme Street. People can pull a tag of the tree and donate a sum of money toward purchasing food for a needy family.

The food program is likely to be greatly used this year due to the recent cut in food stamp benefits, said Garrett.

“Everybody who has applied for assistance so far has asked for food,” added Place.

The organization will also be hosting its “Fill the Truck” toys and coats drive Dec. 14 at Wal-Mart in Marietta. The campaign is important because it helps families who applied for assistance after the deadline, said Place.

Also in the works are monthly community dinners in the Salvation Army’s upstairs gymnasium. The first official dinner will be Nov. 25 from 5 to 6 p.m., said Garrett.

“I know there are a lot of families in our area who come in on a regular basis who are in need of food,” she said.

Having the dinners on the last Monday of the month will help families who are trying to stretch to make ends meet, she said.

There will be no December meal as the Salvation Army works on its various Christmas programs, but the meals will resume in January, said Garrett.

Finally, the organization is looking for volunteers for their annual bell ringing campaign and to help with various aspects of the Christmas assistance. Those interested can contact the Salvation Army at 373-4043.