By CAROL COMEGNO
Businesses or anyone with extra dollars available for a good cause, the USS New Jersey is calling you.
The Home Port Alliance, the nonprofit group converting the historic warship into a museum on the Camden Waterfront, is sponsoring a Delaware River cruise and gala fund-raising event June 27 that will cost at least $250 to attend. The amount is tax-deductible.
Alliance Co-chairwoman Patricia Jones said the board is hoping corporations will give more by joining one of several donation clubs being formed to raise money to help keep the museum afloat once it opens.
A $3,000 contribution qualifies for the Admiral's Club, entitling the donor to special recognition and up to six tickets for the cruise. The Commander's Club will cost $2, 000 for four tickets and the Captain's Club $1,000 for two tickets.
Guests will board the Spirit of Philadelphia cruise ship at 5:30 p.m. at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia for a cruise lasting until 8 p.m. The Spirit will pass by the battleship, which is now being renovated at the Broadway Terminal of the South Jersey Port Corp. in South Camden.
Guests also will be able to see progress being made on the new $10 million, T-shaped pier under construction along the Waterfront near the New Jersey State Aquarium.
The battleship project will cost at least $22 million, all from grants by the state and other public agencies. In addition to needing money for future capital projects, the alliance must raise revenue for annual operating costs.
The ship, the largest ever built by the Navy and the most decorated battleship in naval history, fought in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War. It was built at the former Philadelphia Naval Shipyard and was retired in 1991.
Alliance trustee Philip Norcross, chairman of the resource development committee, said the board has hired Schultz and Williams of Philadelphia, a nationally recognized firm that assists nonprofit groups, to help raise money. He said the company will be working on an overall membership plan, an annual giving program and a long-term capital campaign aimed at attracting large donors for future improvements to the ship and landside museum.
"We are looking at a multi-year, multi-million dollar capital fund-raising schedule, though we do not yet have a dollar target," said Norcross, a partner in the Marlton law firm of Parker, McCay and Criscuolo.
He said Commerce Bank and his firm are the sponsors for the cruise and contributed $15,000 toward it.
"We are getting a good response from the corporate community in the Delaware Valley for the cruise," he said.