The Salvation Army Reflects on Helping Syracusans in need for well over a Century

May 13, 2013

Salvation Army marks 130 years in Syracuse

Monday starts Salvation Army week nationwide...and here in Syracuse it means recognizing an agency that’s been here for 130 years.  Here's some of the history and the modern makeup of the organization.

It was 1883 when a group of people assembled on the steps of Onondaga County’s courthouse to declare that the Salvation Army was open for business here.  What started as a group to help the downtrodden has expanded greatly...where the agency has 40 different programs.  C-E-O Major George Polarek says two provide some specific help to support families

"We have a program for full families who are homeless and have an opportunity to remain as a family, which is a unique opportunity in this community.  We have a parenting program; we have young women and their children who actually live on our residence.  They have an opportunity to learn better parenting skills.  Clinicians are here all the time helping them and assisting them.”   

Modern day programs also address day care, after school needs, elderly services, mental health, youth and even summer camps. 


This week the Salvation Army will be working with TOPS markets to deliver donuts to a hundred people and organizations that have helped...and while that’s a nice treat Polarek says it has some history with the Army.

The national commander sent 100 women from Salvation Army here in America to World War One in order to help with driving ambulances and somehow they got into making donuts with the young recruits that were there...and the donut girl was born.”   

Polarek also emphasizes the volunteers needed to run all their many as 2000 not counting Christmas events.  The agency will hold a service fair tomorrow from 10:00 to 2:00 at is south warren street location to tell people about all its programs and recruit volunteers.  In its 130th year, the Salvation Army reports serving more than 41-thousand people in its area programs.


  • On Tuesday, May 14th from 10 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Agency Fair that is open to the public. The Agency Fair will take place in our Citadel Chapel at 749 South Warren Street and representatives from dozens of our programs and services will be on hand to answer questions.
  • On Wednesday, May 15 at 10:30 a.m., we will present our "Can-Do" Volunteer Awards to several individuals and groups who have demonstrated a deep commitment to furthering the work of The Salvation Army by helping those we serve. This brief ceremony and reception will take place in our Citadel Chapel at 749 South Warren Street.
  • Throughout the week, staff and advisory board members will be delivering donuts to many of our loyal supporters and community partners, as well as to veterans’ groups. We thank Tops Friendly Markets for providing 200 dozen donuts for this effort.