Business, Central New York, Community, Syracuse, Things to do

The Holidays Would Not Be The Same in CNY Without Volunteers

The Salvation Army Syracuse collects donations throughout the season to distribute to families in need at the Christmas Bureau. (c) 2017 Erica Pieschke.

By Erica Pieschke SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) –  It’s that time of year again and the community is eager to help provide a happy holiday for those less fortunate. The Salvation Army of Syracuse is collecting donations and bringing in more volunteers in order to make this happen.

The Christmas Bureau is an event put on by the Salvation Army where gifts are distributed to the eligible families. In addition to toys for the children, a Christmas meal is provided, including:

  • Canned Vegetables
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Stuffing
  • Gift card to purchase a turkey

Each year the number of families eligible has increased, says Josiah Benedict, the Volunteer Coordinator for Salvation Army.

“A few years ago we were sitting closer to 1,800 – 2,000,” Benedict says. “Now we’re all the way up to 2,500.”

More families, means more volunteers will be needed. However, this year the event is being held at the old JCPenny in Shoppingtown Mall, which is a smaller venue than years past at The OnCenter, meaning it will be harder to fit a lot of volunteers inside.

“We’re redirecting people to other events,” Benedict says. “And we’re having a lot of internal events within our various programs to try to make sure that everyone who wants to has an opportunity to volunteer.”

In addition to the Christmas Bureau, other agencies are looking for volunteer help during the holidays.

The YMCA of Greater Syracuse put on a Giving Tuesday event downtown to help educate the community about non-profit organizations and giving back, Scott Sears says, the Associate Executive Director of YMCA.

“We have about 17 agencies that are representing today here at the event,” Sears says. “We expect about 100 people to show up and learn more about how they can give back in the community.”

Donations, including food and winter clothing like mittens, hats, scarves,  were also being delivered to the event as more community members came in.

“Non-perishable food items will be distributing to the food bank and residents that live at the downtown YMCA,”Sears says.

The distribution of gifts throughout the season wouldn’t be possible without the volunteers.

“From individual people calling us up and giving a toy or two,” Benedict says. “We get every toy for tots, from the marines in the area. They back up the entire truck and they put it in our hands to distribute the toys with them.”

Food donated at YMCA's Giving Tuesday event. (c) 2017 Erica Pieschke.

Join YMCA and other organizations in giving back to the community this holiday season. (c) 2017 Erica Pieschke.