Wilkes-Barre Salvation Army helping fill void left by West Pittston closure

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE 28/WYOU 22 EYEWITNESS NEWS) — A local Salvation Army is bracing for even more families looking to lean on the site for services.

That burden is being put upon the Salvation Army center located in Wilkes-Barre.

The citadel is trying to provide a solution to a need that’s expected to increase nearly 20 percent weekly, all because of another Salvation Army center that’s closing in a matter of days.

Boxing up food for families in need keeps the Salvation Army Wilkes-Barre especially busy and that was even before the pandemic. It’s been helping about 250 families a week on average, a number that’s on the verge of jumping because of something that’s about to happen less than 10 miles away.

“Most organizations are dwindling down a little bit, trying to make the best of the resources, so the decision was made to close West Pittston,” Wilkes-Barre Salvation Army Corps Officer Lieutenant Ismael Ortiz said.

The West Pittston Salvation Army served the community for nearly eight decades but will shut down operations July 1st.

“It’s very hurtful for the West Pittston people who’ve been there for many, many years but we are glad here at Wilkes-Barre to have open hearts and open arms for them,” Ortiz said.

But this center also has some empty shelf space it needs to fill with food. Twice a week, Lt. Ortiz and his staff box up everything from chicken, ham and eggs to mashed potatoes, canned goods and cereal, enough food to last a family for two weeks. Tony Baez counts on this site to help feed his family of five and says he and his family would go without if the food wasn’t offered to them.

Lt. Ortiz says he is determined to help as many families as possible not go hungry, but he needs some help.

“We need the more donations of food or even monetary donations to get the food,” Ortiz said.

The Salvation Army Wilkes-Barre distributes boxes of food Tuesdays and Thursdays, and bread and pastries every Monday through Friday.

For more information, visit pa.salvationarmy.org/wilkes-barre or call 570-824-8741.

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