WELLSBURG - As the guest speaker for the Brooke County Salvation Army Volunteer Appreciation Dinner Thursday, attorney and lay minister Frank Haas said he has fond memories of his encounters with the organization as a boy.
He recalled being impressed by the uniforms worn by its leaders and volunteers and the sound of his coin as it hit the metallic bottom of a Salvation Army kettle at Christmas.
Haas, who is the son of advisory board member Bob Haas, said the Salvation Army's principles of reaching out to those in need with Christian compassion are timeless, but the organization has changed with the times and must continue to do so.
STAR AWARD — The Wellsburg Kiwanis Club was the recipient of the Brooke County Salvation Army’s Star Award, which is given to volunteers who “go above and beyond.” Participating in the presentation were, from left, Major David Dewan, advisory board member Janet Tarr, Carol Churchman, president of the Wellsburg Kiwanis Club; and Major Sue Dewan. The club was among many recognized at the Brooke County Salvation Army’s Volunteer Appreciation Dinner Thursday. -- Warren Scott
He noted anyone now can make a donation to the Salvation Army with their cell phone by simply entering the numbers 80888 and the word 'Give.'
"It will add $10 to your phone bill but the Salvation Army gets the money now," Haas said.
Salvation Army Major Sue Dewan, who with her husband Major David Dewan, leads the Brooke and Hancock county Salvation Army units, said people also can make donations via the Internet and beginning in November, will be able to create their own virtual kettles to collect donations for the Salvation Army from their online contacts.
Haas said in addition to new technology, the organization also must embrace young adults who share very different experiences than the many older volunteers who now serve it.
He noted from the arrival of the Internet and cell phones to the fall of the Soviet Union, a variety of technological, political and other changes already were in place when that generation was born.
To ensure their future, the Salvation Army and other groups must recruit volunteers from that age group, Haas said.
"As they come out (of school), we want to plug them into our service organizations," he said.
There were some young volunteers among the many recognized by the group at the dinner, which was held at the Wellsburg Moose Lodge.
The three groups that raised the most money as bell ringers were the Brooke High School chapter of Health Occupation Students of America, the athletes and volunteers with Brooke County Special Olympics and the high school's Future Business Leaders of America/Interact club.
HOSA's members also donated about $3,000 in toys, purchased with funds they raised, for families aided by the Salvation Army at Christmas.
The top individual bell ringers were Louis Golar, who raised more than $2,000; Ron Taylor and John Bodonski.
Salvation Army leaders also recognized the Wellsburg Kroger store, represented by co-manager Joyce Clifton, as an outstanding business supporter.
The Dewans said not only did donations to the kettle there account for more than half of contributions during the bell ringing campaign, but the store's employees manned the kettle for a day and it regularly donates food, from bread to ice cream, to the Salvation Army.
Janet Tarr, a member of the Brooke County Salvation Army's advisory board, presented the Star award, given to a volunteer who has "gone above and beyond," to the Wellsburg Kiwanis Club.
The group was represented by Carol Churchman, its president.
Tarr said in addition to providing bell ringers for many years, the club has helped with many projects, including packing food baskets for families in need. She added its members also are "training future volunteers" through its support of the Brooke High School Key Club and K-Kids groups at a handful of primary schools.
Special recognition also went to Irene Reitter, a volunteer with the Salvation Army's two weekly community luncheons. Nora Bell, who coordinates the luncheons, said Reitter cheerfully assists on a regular basis and while recovering from a serious accident, remarked that she couldn't wait to return to them.
Bell said volunteers always are needed to cook, bake or wash dishes for the lunches, which are held from noon to 1 p.m. each Wednesday and Friday. She said about 200 hot meals are served each month at the luncheons, which are open to everyone.
"A lot of people come not only for the warm meal but also for the warm atmosphere and fellowship," she said.
The meals were among 1,778 provided by the Brooke County Salvation Army throughout 2013. The organization also reported it assisted 1,293 individuals, providing clothing to 942, groceries to 473 and assistance with utilities to 120.
Many children were among those aided, with toys and other gifts going to 885, shoes distributed to 31 through the Lace Up for Kids campaign and coats given to 79 through the Coats for Kids campaign.
Sue Dewan said while times have changed in many ways, there still are many in need.
Fortunately, there also are many willing to help, she said.
Dewan told attendees, "We still have people like you who help, who give and who care about their community. I thank you for that."
While also expressing thanks to the many attending, Matz Malone, who chairs the advisory board, said volunteering is its own reward.
Quoting author H. Jackson Brown Jr., who said, "The happiest people are not those getting more but those giving more."
(Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)