GLOVERSVILLE - The Gloversville Salvation Army will begin celebrating its 125th anniversary today.
Capt. Deb Stedman said one of the main reasons for the open house today from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Salvation Army Corps, 10 Spring St., is that people sometimes forget the Salvation Army is a church.
"Many people think of us just for the social services work," she said.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
Mary Anne “Cookie” Quackenbush, a caseworker for the Salvation Army in Gloversville, places bags of noodles on a shelf Thursday in the food pantry at the organization’s location on Spring Street in the city.
Mary?Anne "Cookie" Quackenbush, a caseworker at the Salvation Army in the city who oversees the food pantry, said it is important people remember the organization helps more than just the needy and those who literally need food.
"We have to feed the soul as well," Quackenbush said.
Fulton County Historian Peter Betz wrote in The Leader-Herald Feb. 15 that the founder of the Salvation Army was a Methodist minister named William Booth. He began by preaching to the poor of London's east end slums in 1865. In 1878, Booth changed the name of his missionary organization to the Salvation Army.
According to the organization's Web site - www.salvationarmy.org - the Salvation Army started its ministry in the U.S. in October 1879 in New York City.
"In only three years, operations had expanded into California, Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania," the Web site said.
Betz wrote, "According to early issues of the Gloversville Intelligencer, a citadel of the Salvation Army was established in Gloversville sometime during 1885 on Main Street."
Betz noted that during its 100th anniversary in 1985, Leader-Herald reporter Michael Anich learned "Details of its [local] inception are sketchy and vague, as records were evidently lost or never maintained by the local organization's officers."
Stedman said each citadel offers services based on the needs of its community. Among the services the Salvation Army in the city provides are giveaways of toys for the Christmas season, clothes for the needy, school supplies, Christmas baskets, a Sunday worship service and an adult Sunday service.
Before coming to Gloversville in June 2006, Stedman worked at a Salvation Army location in Uniontown, Pa. That local branch actually had an emergency canteen. When an emergency happened, such as a fire, the volunteers would go to the scene with drinks such as water and Gatorade.
Stedman said in the city there is probably more of a focus on the soup kitchen, which runs three times a week. Of course, the food pantry, which runs four times a week, also is important, she said.
Quackenbush, who will turn 61 soon, said she has spent her life associated with the Salvation Army. A city native, her parents were active in the group.
Quackenbush said the food pantry serves about 100 people a month, which is probably part of the reason the group's social services work is so well known.
At an awards ceremony Saturday, the local organization will present Quackenbush with the Volunteer of the Year award.
"It's really a big honor," she said.
Stedman, an ordained minister, said the organization's success in the city has been due to God and the support of the community.
That support has been evident recently. The group was able to raise more money than it needed to hit the $24,000 goal for its annual Red Kettle campaign.
She said the organization will keep doing in the future what it has been doing for 125 years.
"If some other need does arise, I'm sure we will try and meet that need," Stedman said.
After today, the Salvation Army will celebrate its 125th anniversary with a 125th Anniversary Celebration Meeting at 6 p.m. Monday at the Salvation Army Corps. Light refreshments will be served.
The week-long celebration will conclude with the 125th Anniversary Celebration and Awards Ceremony Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Holiday Inn in Johnstown.