Norwich - The Norwich Salvation Army hopes an idea used elsewhere in the state to boost holiday kettle drive revenue catches on in eastern Connecticut - corporate sponsorship.
For a $1,000 donation, a business will get title sponsorship of a specific Salvation Army kettle during the annual kettle drive that runs through Christmas Eve. So far, the Norwich Salvation Army has had one response to the new effort. Mohegan Sun casino is sponsoring the kettle outside the Norwichtown Commons Stop & Shop supermarket.
"It's the first time I've done it in Norwich," said Jerry Uttley, captain of the Norwich Salvation Army. "It's a new idea that has worked in other locations in Connecticut. I figured I would give it a shot."
The Mohegan Sun donation helped give a "jump start" to the annual drive that started just before Thanksgiving, Uttley said, providing advance cash to buy necessary supplies for the campaign.
The Norwich Salvation Army has 17 kettle collections in locations throughout eastern Connecticut from Killingly to Montville. The drive has a goal of $100,000 - same as last year - and as of Thursday has reached about $25,000, Uttley said.
It's impossible to tell what an average contribution to the kettle drive is, but Uttley hopes donors will consider a $3 suggested donation.
"If they would put $3 in, we would meet or exceed the goal," Uttley said. "That's my challenge."
Money collected in the kettles funds Thanksgiving and Christmas meals for needy families, buys toys for children and funds Salvation Army programs throughout the year, Uttley said.
The Norwich Salvation Army also is hosting two Fill-a-Truck drives Saturday outside the Norwich and Lisbon Wal-Mart stores. The agency is seeking donations of nonperishable food items, new adults and children's clothes and new toys.
For information on sponsoring a kettle or other Salvation Army programs or volunteer opportunities, contact the Norwich Salvation Army at (860) 889-2329.