Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 09 November 2012 00:00
For Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Nassau County Salvation Army will have four facilities open, located in Freeport, Hempstead and Westbury.
Major Phillip Wittenberg is the commanding officer for the Nassau County Salvation Army. He is located at the 65 Atlantic Ave. branch in Hempstead. The big events coming out of that branch this year is the Thanksgiving dinner and the popular Angel Tree charity. This year, the Salvation Army is partnering with the Destiny Foundation for the Thanksgiving Day meal.
Even before that, on Friday, Nov. 16, the Salvation Army will unveil its Angel Tree at the Macy’s store in the Roosevelt Field Mall. Shoppers can take an angel off the tree, complete with the name of a Long Island youth. Shoppers will then sponsor that child for Christmas toys. This popular program generally helps over 1,000 local children with Christmas toys they might not otherwise receive and Wittenberg is hoping for another big result this year. On Dec. 19, the toys will be distributed to needy youngsters.
During the first week of December, the Salvation Army will be opening its equally popular toy shop, located on 165 Atlantic Ave. Currently, the Salvation Army is taking applicants for those who would like to work at the store.
The Salvation Army is legendary for its bell ringers, something that is as much a part of the Christmas season as Santa Claus or tree lightings. “We always need volunteer bell ringers,” Wittenberg said. “We can never have too many.”
In fact, any kind of volunteering is more than welcome by Wittenberg. “For anyone who wants to volunteer for one hour a day or for a single day, call us at 485-4900.”
The Hempstead branch, as noted, is one of the three sites the Nassau County Salvation Army operates. The Freeport site is supervised by Majors Jose and Ana Guzman. According to Major Wittenberg, their coverage runs from Valley Stream to Massapequa, south of the Southern State. This year, the Guzmans, according to Salvation Army officials, are set to launch a community-responsive mobile feeding, one that can serve several hundred meals at a time, plus a social services program using a service vehicle to better service a community’s unique needs.
On Thanksgiving Day, the Guzmans will be serving 400 meals at their 66 Church St. site in Freeport. The Cheesecake Factory will be providing the holiday meals.
The big news from the Westbury Corps, which is located on Prospect Street is the impending construction of a $10 million youth facility. That facility, Major Wittenberg said, is still several years away from groundbreaking ceremony, but its completion promises to be a great boon to the Prospect Street location.
Finally, the Hempstead location, this one at 194 Front St., serves as the Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC), which runs the Salvation Army’s several thrift shops in both Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Proceeds from such shops go towards drug and rehabilitation programs. Damon Rader supervises the Hempstead location, whose volunteers also are responsible for putting out Salvation Army clothing collection boxes.
Every winter sees a great need for the less fortunate on Long Island. Salvation Army officials claim this year remains a special case. Community need, they said, has increased by 400 percent since the economic downturn, but every volunteer and every shopper who participates in the Angel Tree charity goes a long way to alleviating that situation.