OLEAN — When Major Tommy and Capt. Gillian Rogers moved to The Salvation Army headquarters in Olean this summer, they wanted to get the word out that the ministry continues to serve the community, offers church services and plans to launch the annual Red Kettle Campaign beginning next week.
Gillian Rogers reported this week that all money raised for the Salvation Army will stay in the community and helps the ministry make a difference by offering services to those in need.
“We want the community to know that we are still here, the thrift store closed earlier this year but our location on State Street is still here serving the community and offering church services,” she said.
“Every year people see our familiar Red Kettles at stores across the area,” Rogers continued. “With the help of the community, we were able to raise over $57,000, and this year our goal is $60,000.”
Rogers noted she was born and raised in the Northwest of England, and at the age of 18 she worked at the Salvation Army Summer Camp in Penn Yan. She continued working there for the next five summers. During that time, she met her now husband, Tommy, who grew up in the Empire State Division of the Salvation Army, attending the Herkimer Corps as a child and later the Rome Corps.
The couple, who have extensive training and have served in various positions for the ministry and as corps officers at several locations, have two children, Noah, 14, and Paige, 12.
“In the short time that we have been here we are really enjoying the community,” Gillian Rogers shared. “We are excited to serve as Corps Officers at the Olean Corps and look forward to getting to know and becoming part of the community. Our commitment is to continue living out the mission of The Salvation Army to meet spiritual and physical needs in the name of Jesus Christ.”
As for the Red Kettle Campaign, she said it begins Nov. 15 at Tops Market, Service Store Park and Shop, Ried’s Food Barn and Big Lots. Volunteers are needed and will be stationed at Walmart beginning Nov. 29. Red Kettle volunteers will be at all of these locations until Dec. 24.
She said the ministry will be helped once again by Cutco Corp. which has provided volunteers to man the Red Kettles at Tops from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day, except Sundays and Thanksgiving Day. The company has helped at the Red Kettle for over a decade.
“We do have some groups that are signing up,” she added. “We’re trying to reach out to as many groups in the community that we can for people who have stood in the past.”
Rogers said a new option provided this year at all of the Red Kettle locations in Olean will be “Kettle Pay,” which can accept Google Pay and Apple Pay. The program has smart chips and QR codes located on the Red Kettle signs. To make a donation in this manner, shoppers simply “bump” or scan their phones to make a digital donation.
Shoppers will be directed to a custom donation page that accepts Apple or Google payment options. The funds will then be distributed to local Salvation Army units based on the donor’s billing ZIP code, and an email receipt will be sent directly to their phone.
“This makes it a little more convenient, that there is a different option and for some people it’s an easier option,” Rogers said.
As for upcoming services provided by the Salvation Army, she said they will include Christmas Food Baskets provided for the needy.
“We are in need of food donations to fulfil this need,” she stated. “Turkeys or ham, instant mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, non-perishable desserts (such as) cake mixes, pumpkin pie filling, stuffing mixes, cranberry sauce, apple sauce and canned vegetables” are needed.
Donations are accepted at 301 E. State St. or by calling the office at 372-6740.
Volunteers are also encouraged to call or stop by the office. The ministry can also be found on Facebook and Instagram @salvationarmyolean.