COAL TOWNSHIP - Dumping of illegal garbage at the rear of the Salvation Army Thrift Store is hindering efforts to provide for families who apply for assistance during the Christmas season.

During a meeting of the Salvation Army Advisory Board last week, officials reported spending hundreds of dollars each month to remove garbage dumped outside the store on Independence Street in Shamokin.

Board members discussed a number of ways to curb the dumping, including installing additional security cameras and fencing off the area with locked gates.

Maj. Tina Streck, commanding officer of the Salvation Army, reminded area residents clothing and other items donated to the thrift store can only be dropped off during store hours. She said the need is greater than ever and the illegal dumping is setting back the group's efforts.

Dumpster diving

Judy Orner, social services director, said in addition to dropping off garbage, residents are also digging through dropped off items and Dumpsters searching for items. The items are overflowing onto the street, Orner said.

Streck said work is under way to rearrange clothing in the store and move clothing quickly from the basement into the thrift store. Shelves will be installed along the walls for items other than clothing.

Streck said some customers visit the store several times a day because different clothing items are displayed in the store daily.

Other store business

Henry Linton, board president, led a lengthy discussion on prices. Sales are held on a regular basis, he said.

Orner said the food supply is dwindling and canned goods and other non-perishable items are in great need, especially during October and November.

Brian Persing, board member, conducted a canned food drive recently to help get through the two months.

Streck emphasized the importance of the kettle drive during the Christmas season, noting the Salvation Army survives all year on the Christmas kettle drive.

Board members are seeking individuals, organizations, emergency personnel and various service clubs to help man the kettles. Ned Sodrick, board member, suggested a sign be placed with the group's name along with the Salvation Army sign to denote the organization manning the kettle. Hours are flexible and efforts will be made to provide suitable time slots.

Groups or individuals interested in helping with the kettles can call the Salvation Army headquarters at 570-644-0486 during working hours or contact any of the board members.

During her financial report, Streck said the Salvation Army ended the fiscal year "in the black."

Orner said it seems "bigger families" are requesting assistance lately. She said not much financial assistance comes from government agencies.

Christmas assistance

Orner said applications for Christmas assistance (food and/or toys) will be taken from Tuesday, Oct. 22, through Thursday, Oct. 24, at the assigned date and time for those who called to make an appointment. Applications will be accepted at the Salvation Army headquarters, 1300 W. Spruce St., Coal Township.

To make an appointment, call the headquarters at 570-644-0486 during working hours. No walk-ins will be accepted.

The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14. Linton said there will be a lot of items on the agenda.

Those attending the meeting in addition to Streck, Orner, Knoebel and Linton, were Janice Kotwica, Jack Murdock, Jan Diorio, Paul Metrocavage, Lois McCormick, Violette Feudale and Chris Venna.