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Connellsville/Scottdale Salvation Army celebrates 1st anniversary

| Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Marilyn Forbes | For the Daily Courier
Already at $10,000, the Connellsville/Scottdale Salvation Army is starting on its goal of $40,000, which would cover the services for both municipalities. From left are: Scottdale kettle Chairwoman Maria Nascimben, volunteer Bonnie Henry, volunteer Pat Walker, Christmas Chairwoman Doris Rizza, volunteer and advisory board member Marsha Mazer and Connellsville/Scottdale Salvation Army Director Mary McKnight.

Receiving guests and members of the community for a day of celebration, the Connellsville/Scottdale Salvation Army marked its first anniversary at its new location with an open house to mark the occasion.

“We just wanted people to see that we are still here, open, alive and well,” director Mary McKnight said of the open house, held at its new location at 300 W. Crawford Ave. “We wanted to get the word out that we only moved to a new location.”

McKnight said that when the rent became too high at the organization's former location in the Connellsville Community Center, that they had to move, and once they were gone from their long-time location, many in the area assumed they were no longer in existence.

“So many people from the area thought that we left town or that we just weren't here anymore,” McKnight said.

Since the Scottdale branch of the Salvation Army was experiencing problems finding enough volunteer help to continue to run that location, both sites were combined and McKnight said that she would like to find more ways to reach out to the residents of the Scottdale area.

“The majority of the people that we see are from the Connellsville area,' McKnight said. “We need to try to inform the Scottdale people more and try to involve those people more. I am always looking for ways to try to get the word out.”

The open house welcomed visitors with tours of the new site and a wall that was covered with information on all of the projects the facility and its volunteers orchestrated last year: Project Bundle Up, Kettle collection, Fill the Truck with Toys, Operation Santa Claus, summer camp aid and participation in the Connellsville Community Yard Sale.

Although the Salvation Army does still operate as a service center to help those in need of assistance with utilities and other social services, it no longer functions as a soup kitchen.

“We would get phone calls about what we were serving for lunch,” McKnight said. “That was what the people were interested in and the program just wasn't working the way that it was supposed to work.”

McKnight said the organization has a very good working relationship with other organizations such as St. Vincent de Paul and Connellsville Community Ministries.

“We try not to offer duplicate services,” Mc-Knight said.

McKnight added she is fortunate to have a good, solid group of volunteers who help with the services offered by the organization.

With the holidays coming, McKnight said the organization will be in need of ringers to man the red kettles that will start to appear in the area around Thanksgiving.

“We are really in need of ringers,” McKnight said. “We need ringers in Connellsville and in Scottdale.”

The money raised from the kettles will help to go toward the annual budget that is used to run the organization.

“We don't get funding,” McKnight said, adding this year's goal is set at $40,000, which would cover the services for both towns. “We need all the help and support that we can get from the community.”

The organization also has a Fill-the-Truck campaign coming in December for toy collection.

For information on the Connellsville/Scottdale Salvation Army services or to volunteer to help with Christmas bell ringing or toy collection, contact the office at 724-628-2010.

Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer.