2011-12-14 / Front Page

Christmas, the Season of Giving

by LOIS POWERS

Christine and Rocky Locaparra collect funds for the Salvation Army in front of Cold Spring's Foodtown store.LOIS POWERSChristine and Rocky Locaparra collect funds for the Salvation Army in front of Cold Spring's Foodtown store.LOIS POWERSFor those making regular shopping trips to Foodtown in Cold Spring, two friendly faces have become familiar.

Christine Locaparra and her son, Rocky, have become holiday fixtures outside of Foodtown, working 6 days a week since Thanksgiving, ringing the Salvation Army bell to collect money for those less fortunate.

Locaparra, wife and mother of 5 children, has lived with her family in Garrison for over 20 years, and she and Rocky have spent the last three years, regardless of the weather, splitting 8-hour shifts standing outside of Foodtown, thanking people as they drop dollars and change into the famous red kettle.

“Donations given by passers-by at Foodtown will help stock the Food Pantry at the First Presbyterian Church in Cold Spring, and buy food for the Soup Kitchen in Beacon— serving Cold Spring residents and others in surrounding areas,” said Major Doris Gonzalez, Corps Officer of the Salvation Army branch on Main Street in Beacon.

Christmas gifts for financially struggling families, a children’s summer camp, and senior-citizen and youth programs, are all made possible by the generosity of shoppers who take time to find some change to drop in the Salvation Army kettle.

M&T Bank on Rt. 9D in Cold Spring, across the street from Foodtown, holds an Angel Tree of gift requests made by local children to Santa through the Salvation Army. Anyone wishing to answer a child’s gift request can go to the bank and choose the gift you would like to offer. Gifts from the Angel Tree are collected by Salvation Army volunteers and given to the child’s family for Christmas morning.

Founded in 1852 by Christian evangelist, William Booth, the organization is found worldwide. The city of Beacon is home to one of the oldest Salvation Army centers in the country, having been established 100 years ago.

Those whose life path is to serve the Salvation Army in America are ordained as ministers in a 2-year course of study at the Salvation Army headquarters in Suffern. Upon completion of his or her studies, the graduate is given the rank of Lieutenant and then sent wherever they are needed.

Depending on length of time and quality of service, the rank of Captain comes next, and then Major after a minimum of 15 years of service. Major Gonzalez says a life in the Salvation Army is a life of service, 7 days a week. “The love of God is what motivates our actions,” the Major says, “we put our faith into action. One of our mottos is: ‘Heart to God. Hand to Man.’”

The emphasis, the Major assured, is on helping others, regardless of their faith or lack of it, rather than on conversions. “Our faith is always rewarded,” she said, adding, “We didn’t know if there would be enough money to feed all who needed food, or enough money for all the gifts the little ones asked for – but, then suddenly the money started pouring in!”

Christine Locaparra, Rocky, and Major Doris Gonzalez wish to thank everyone who is helping to fill the kettle at the Foodtown entrance, and the angels taking children’s gift requests at the Angel Tree at the M&T Bank in Cold Spring. And Major Gonzalez extends her gratitude to all the generous people throughout Putnam County who are helping make this Christmas a happier one for so many others.

If you have a desire to volunteer, please contact Major Gonzalez at 845-831-1253, or visit the office at: 372 Main Street, Beacon. If you are able and would like to donate, you may send a check to: Salvation Army, P.O. Box 494, Beacon, NY 12508.

 

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