As members of the Grove City Salvation Army Service Unit prepare for a busy holiday season, they want to remind people about their year-round work.

“What I love the most is they take people as they are,” said Rosaleen Poloso, senior field representative for the Salvation Army’s Western Pennsylvania Division.

The Grove City group recently met at Shiloh Intrusion Ministries, 855 N. Broad St. Ext., Pine Township, which serves as the unit’s new headquarters.

Pam Schnelzer, the church’s pastor, has been chair of Grove City Salvation Army for almost 11 years.

Mrs. Schnelzer and Poloso were joined by Shanna Adams, chair of the local Red Kettle Campaign; Sue Kuehne, pastor of Grove City Church of the Nazarene and Salvation Army volunteer; Vicki Brooks, human services secretary; Marge Roxberry, assistant to human services secretary; and Tom Schnelzer, volunteer and Mrs. Schnelzer’s husband.

Also part of the group is Sam Stanton, treasurer.

Poloso has been part of the organization for more than 30 years. She’s a recovering alcoholic and said that Salvation Army volunteers helped save her life.

She’s glad to be able to pay it forward, living by the Salvation Army’s motto of “Doing the Most Good” and mission to meet human needs in God’s name without discrimination.

Many people are familiar with the organizations Red Kettle Campaign, which collects donations over the holidays, but a lot of their work is behind-the-scenes.

People who live in the 16127 ZIP code and meet certain income guidelines could be eligible for a variety of services and programs.

That includes help with rent, utilities, car insurance, glasses, prescriptions, hotel stays, aid for the homeless, and other necessities.

The Salvation Army works with other local organizations like the Grove City Ministerium, Christian Assistance Network and the Grove City Area United Way.

Funding comes from the United Way, the kettles, and monetary donations throughout the year.

“All of the money goes into the community,” Poloso said of how it stays local.

The Salvation Army will have the kettles set up at Walmart and County Market, both in Pine Township, on Fridays and Saturdays Nov. 20 through Dec. 19.

Volunteers are needed to ring the bells. Hand sanitizer and wipes will be provided.

Also at Walmart: the organization will set up a Treasures for Children tree – people can pick a name to buy toys for a local child; or shoppers can round up their purchase to the nearest dollar to make a donation to the Grove City Salvation Army.

They also work with businesses and individuals who “adopt” a local family, providing necessities plus toys for the children, and will soon be leaving donation requests on residents’ doors – some younger volunteers are needed for that task.

The Salvation Army hosts Project Bundle Up, which provides winter gear for kids and seniors, and can help with back-to-school clothes shopping.

Poloso noted that money made by the Salvation Army store in Grove City does not go to the service unit; it benefits things like adult rehab services.

More people need help this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has limited the volunteers’ in-person interactions with residents.

But they continue to find creative ways to meet the needs of the community.

The Salvation Army has distributed gift cards at College View Towers and fresh produce at Fellowship Manor – two Grove City facilities where senior citizens live.

A woman named Marilyn who lives at Fellowship Manor said the Salvation Army set up in the community room with a variety of canned goods, fruits and vegetables and other items.

The residents were able to “shop” for what they wanted and also received toiletry bags.

It was very helpful, especially since the residents are low-income and some of them are not able to go to the store because of the virus, Marilyn said.

The Salvation Army helped Crystal and her family with fuel, food and rent in their time of need.

“They’re amazing,” she said.

Amy Perrine, director of the senior center at College View Towers, said the Salvation Army volunteers are very kind, and the residents really appreciated the donation of County Market gift cards.

The Salvation Army has a lot to offer during this stressful time, and it’s a good source if someone has a problem. They also take the time to talk and pray with the residents, Perrine said.

Prayer is a very important part of the Salvation Army, Kuehne said.

“We give them hope,” Brooks said.

Adams likes being part of the organization; they work they do is so inspiring.

“It’s been a blessing for me,” she said.

They are able to share the love of Jesus with others, Roxberry said, with Schnelzer adding that they operate like a family.

Poloso, who helps with 40 other service units in western Pennsylvania, said it can be challenging at times. There are lots of phone calls, lack of volunteers, and it’s not always easy to find a place to stay for people who need help with housing.

But the compassion she feels keeps her going.

“This is the love of my life, to help other people,” she said.

For more information about the Grove City Salvation Army Service Unit, visit salvationarmy.org or call the main number at 814-549-0375 or Pam Schnelzer at 724-992-9196.

To volunteer with the Red Kettle Campaign, call 724-372-1381. For other volunteer opportunities, contact Sue Kuehne at 724-458-6791 or grovecitynaz.pa@gmail.com

Donations can be sent to P.O. Box 445, Grove City, PA 16127; checks can be made out to “Grove City Salvation Army.”

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