Central New York, Community, Things to do

Springing into the Season of Giving Back

By Elissa Candiotti SYRACUSE,, N.Y. (NCC News) — For some teens, summer break is the time to relax, recline, and rewind. For others, it’s the season of warmth… the season of giving back. As the weather changes from spring to summer, The Salvation Army will gain an army of selfless young adults who spend their time volunteering, donating, and networking in the coming months.

Dozens of employees organize clothing based on color and style throughout the day (c) 2017 Elissa Candiotti

Echelon Syracuse is a new program under that is seeking to engage the next generation for The Salvation Army by allowing young adults to make change in the community. Although relatively new, the program has hosted events for teens to provide an outlet for charity work in the local community. Maria Martusewicz, the Vice President of the Echelon Syracuse program, is continuously finding new ways to help young adults to recognize how their local areas can be improved, and work towards that change.

“People constantly say that the new generations are going to be the new voices,” Maria Martusewicz said. “So we want to raise awareness early. We want them to give back to the community that they are growing up in.”

All items in the store are marked at bargain prices. On Wednesday, clothing is half-priced, which typically brings in many customers (c) 2017 Elissa Candiotti

The teens in the Echelon program are working to do just that. This year, The Salvation Army has helped over 25,000 people and has served over 30,000 meals, Martusewicz said. But despite that success, the program has been met with a surplus of obstacles.

Competition has increased recently with other thrift stores and donation hubs in the area. Moreover, people have been using the family store on Erie Blvd. as a place to dump their garbage, rather than donate usable belongings, according to Major Robert Miga, Administrator for Business at The Salvation Army.

“People look at the store and say, here’s an easy way to get rid of my garbage,” Major Robert Miga of The Salvation Army said. “We ended up paying over $200,000 this year for trash bills, instead of using that money to pay for our rehabilitation programs.”

Major Robert Miga helps oversee the business units of all The Salvation Army Family Stores across Central New York (c) 2017 Elissa Candiotti

Along with the fresh air and lemonade of the summer season, employees at The Salvation Army see the summer season as a fresh start. Miga is confident that spring cleaning will bring more clothing, electronics, and linens to the shop to combat the lack of recent donations.

“We have a big anniversary sale coming up this summer and big goals, too,” Miga said. “We’re staying positive and hope that more people will come out to donate and shop.”