NORWICH – Recently, the iconic image of Salvation Army volunteers ringing bells next to red collection kettles, smiling and greeting passersby while encouraging them to make a donation, has received an interesting local twist as a quartet of volunteers have used their love of animals to lure contributions.
Karen Wood, her husband Larry Wood, and their two Pekingese pooches, have been manning the bright red kettle in the Norwich Tops entrance for the past couple of months. Karen cites the family dogs as the reason behind the group’s ability to successfully compel shoppers into making donations.
“They are such great volunteers ... I am so impressed with them,” said local Salvation Army organizer Shannon Wright. “(They) have become quite an attraction in the lobby at Tops.”
The Woods have been volunteering with the Salvation Army for about five or six years, they said, beginning in Binghamton. One year in Binghamton, the Woods and their canines were stationed outside the mall. They were so successful, Larry had to shove the donations down into the kettle because the little red bucket was brimming over with paper compassion. The next year though, when the Woods showed up outside the mall, there was no kettle. “We waited and we waited, but no one from the Salvation Army showed up with the kettle,” said Karen. The Woods still collected some donations and later passed it along to the Binghamton Salvation Army. When Karen decided to give the Binghamton Salvation Army member in charge of the kettle a piece of her mind, he explained he hadn’t been able to make it because of the snow. “I said, we drove 35 miles to be there and you couldn’t make it just a few miles? Than he had the audacity to ask me if we had raised any money! I said yeah here it is and thought that was it for Binghamton!” laughed Karen.