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Massena Salvation Army welcomes new commanders

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MASSENA – The new commanders of the Massena Salvation Army have been on board for less than a month.

But Lieutenants Russell and Cynthia Crowsen already have plans for some new community-oriented activities.

“We have a vision which we shared with our congregation. The congregation also had the same vision,” Mr. Crowsen said.

For instance, he said, they want to start with a Boy’s Adventure Corps in the fall, along with their regular slate of activities.

“It’s the Salvation Army’s version of the Boy Scouts. They earn merit badges while they’re learning,” he said, noting it provided hands-on activities for the members.

For instance, Mr. Crowsen said, if a member wants to study airplanes they’ll learn facts like how it stays in the sky, but will also build a model airplane to further their studies.

They could also participate in physical fitness or a number of other activities for merit badges, according to Mr. Crowsen.

“We do similar things for other badges,” he said.

They also plan to start a similar program for girls. Sunbeams, Mr. Crowsen said, are the Salvation Army version of the Girl Scouts.

“It’s more than just learning. It’s hands-on,” he said.

Both the Boy’s Adventure Corps and Sunbeam programs are “very old Salvation Army programs,” he said. “It’s up to the officers’ desire to fund the programs.”

In this case, he said, the congregation “stepped up” to embrace the initiatives.

Another initiative in the works for the new commanders is a Vacation Bible School, which will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 13 to 17. It’s open to students in grades one through six and features a sports theme - “On Your Mark... Get Set, Go!”

Snacks will be provided, and Mr. Crowsen said anyone who needs transportation can contact them at 769-5154.

They’re also getting ready for kick off the Stuff the Bus campaign, which provides back to school supplies for needy families.

“We’ve been working with the radio station. There’s no specific date as of yet,” he said.

The commanders are already looking ahead to the holiday season, too.

“Starting next month we’ll start taking applications for bellringers,” he said.

Finding available bellringers has been a problem in the past, but Mr. Crowsen said it’s not just isolated to Massena.

“It’s an issue no matter where you are,” he said. “If you’re in a cold place, people say it’s too cold. If you’re in a hot place, people say it’s too hot.”

To encourage more bellringers, Mr. Crowsen said they want to give interested individuals meal reimbursements of $8 or $3, depending on their shift, for ringing the bell for five hours.

“That will help encourage a longer time,” he said.

The Crowsens were ordained as officers in 2008.

“We’ve been a member of the Salvation Army Church longer than that,” Mr. Crowsen said.

They found out about their new assignment at the beginning of June and arrived in Massena on June 27 from North Adams, Mass. They replace Captains Ronald and Marilyn Heimbrock.

“I knew that it was near Canada. We did Google it. It’s bigger than our old appointment,” Mrs. Crowsen said. “We’re kind of excited to be coming here. We’re excited to have more people.”

Since their arrival, the Crowsens have been meeting with members of the community to introduce themselves and meet others they’ll be working with. Among those, Mr. Crowsen said, are members of the Salvation’s Advisory Board, Mayor James F. Hidy, Police Chief Timmy J. Currier, small business owners and volunteers and others who “help any way they can.”

Both say they’re ready to help out in the Massena community.

“We have seen a lot of needs since we’ve been in Massena. We’ve also seen cooperation,” Mrs. Crowsen said.

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