While you’re out buying gifts for everyone on your nice list, chances are you’ll come across a sure sign that Christmas is fast approaching: A Salvation Army bell ringer and one of their iconic red kettles. Most of us will drop in whatever spare change we can quickly dig out of our pockets as we rush by. But for some passerby, the red kettles present an opportunity to play secret Santa in the most generous ways.
Over the years, substantial red kettle donations from anonymous donors have come in many interesting forms. Here are just a few of the valuable oddities that have filled those red buckets in recent years:
Diamonds are a kettle’s best friend?
2011: A worker at a Salvation Army collection center in Shawnee, Kansas noticed a wadded-up piece of paper lying among the coins and bills. He almost threw it in the trash, but decided to open it to be safe. He was astonished to discover that a solitary diamond had been tucked inside. The identity of the generous donor was never found.
To have and to hold….
2011: An engagement ring and wedding band, along with an appraisal, were tucked inside a dollar bill and anonymously slipped into a red kettle outside a grocery store in Henderson, North Carolina. The donor was never identified.
2014: In Cambridge, Massachusetts, a widow placed her engagement ring and wedding band into a kettle with a note saying that the donation was in honor her late husband, who was a “giver.” Another widow later purchased them from the Salvation Army for $21,000 — far more than their appraised value — and returned the rings to the original donor.
A long lost treasure
2016: In Sebastian, Florida, an unidentified passerby placed a 300-year-old gold escudo directly into the hands of the bell ringer. The coin, worth several thousand dollars, had been recovered off the Florida coast from the wrecks of Spanish treasure ships known as the 1715 Plate Fleet. The donor didn’t want to drop the rare treasure into the kettle because he feared it would get mixed in with the other loose coins.
Cold hard cash
2015: A very generous donor dropped a $10,000 check into a red kettle in Jacksonville, FL.
2014: A mysterious donor dropped bundles of ten $100 bills at a time into kettles all over the Minneapolis area, totaling over $14,000.
Silver Bells (“bars”?)
2015: In Syracuse, New York, The Salvation Army received a donation that was too big to fit into a kettle – a 100-ounce silver bar valued around $1,600. The generous donor wished to remain anonymous and was never identified.
Putting their money where their mouth is
2014: Among the most unusual items found in red kettles so far, Salvation Army spokesmen in both Florida and Missouri reported receiving gold teeth in the same year. An anonymous person put four gold teeth in an Orlando kettle, while another donated a single gold tooth in Kansas City.
Worth their weight in gold
The first time a Salvation Army organization reported a gold coin donation was in 1982, when an anonymous donor dropped a Krugerrand into a red kettle north of Chicago. According to legend, the benevolent donor was a World War II veteran who wanted to give something in return for the charity’s service that he received on the front line. Today, Krugerrands and other types of gold coins show up in the Salvation Army’s red kettles all across the country each year, providing solid gold evidence that there is indeed a Santa Claus. For example:
Since 1998: In Fort Collins, Colorado, a pair of 1-ounce gold Krugerrands were slipped into red kettles by the same anonymous donor for almost two decades. The undercover giver always returned later to The Salvation Army to buy back the coins at $1,000 more than their value. Notes and poems in the same handwriting were often attached to the donations, until 2002 – when the coins were accompanied by a note stating that the decades-long secret Santa had died, but the tradition would be continued yearly by the family in his or her honor. And it hasn’t stopped since.
2018: This year, gold coins worth several thousands of dollars have already been anonymously dropped into Salvation Army kettles around the Chicago metro area, including several Gold American Eagles and Gold Krugerrands.
Which brings us to….
Our December giveaway!
We would love to hear about a unique gifting experience you’ve had during the holiday season. Tell us about a time you enjoyed playing “Santa” to put a smile on a special someone’s face, or received the perfect gift at just the right time from an anonymous giver. We may share a story or two on our Facebook page, as well!
Commenting below will serve as your entry for our December giveaway. Submit your comment (one comment only please) by December 31st, and one winner will be randomly selected on January 1st to receive an Argor-Heraeus 1 gram gold bar! Whether you decide to keep it or play secret Santa with it is up to you!
*(No Scrooges allowed! Inappropriate comments will be deleted and disqualified.)
It is the time for giving and it’s fun to receive. I know a secret Santa here in Johnson city tn. It’s fun to hear people talk about what they have done but knowing and not telling is so much more fun . There is a little secret Santa in all of us so remember whose birthday it is we celebrate and help the less fortunate than others are and spread the spirit just a little gold glitter can fo along way. Believe me I’ve been there .
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Brian Ross says
William Stallings says
New to investing …I would love to win a PIECE of gold
This was a wonderful blog post about the giving nature of this season. It’s important to think about what we can pass on to our fellow Americans, every little bit can help make a difference! Surprises are even better.
Best wishes to everyone reading this for 2019!
EVAN LOWE says
Am I too late?!
Scott Brant says
Happy new year!
I love the design
Was out with a friend this Christmas and an older man asked us for a smoke. My friend turned him away but I told him to come back and gave him one. Turns out he was homeless and told me he could use some change so I gave him some cash, which surprised him. Never turn someone away – you never know what their situation is! Happy New Year everyone!!!
Jeffrey Jensen says
Would love to win
God bless those bell-ringers and generous souls everywhere!
Jerome Brownell says
Happy New Year
Jerome Brownell says
Thanks for the awesome giveaway
David Schmidt says
Merry Christmas & Happy New Years!!!
george duncan says
george duncan says
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year guys.
Jacob Trotter says
Happy New Year. My gold amount is getting bigger and I’m excited for the new prospecting year of 2019….. Let’s get it folks
Ernest Comstock says
Kind of a special thing for me. I got my wife a 1 oz silver bar that has a heart and it says: I love you, I miss you, I need you. I placed it on her urn in my house. It’s the second Christmas without her and I always try and do something special for her. I love you my Lady….
Lovie Ball says
My best gift was a slightly eaten cookie, from a small boy. You could tell that He didn’t really want to share. He came up the aisle at church, pick me to share with. I really needed it that day. It’s been over 35 years and I still remember.
Todd Arneson says
I had never touched a piece of silver in my life until November this year. Really! Imagine my excitement when my order came in. This order was for 2 people in my family as Christmas gifts. I kept the silver on my desk unwrapped right up until Christmas so I could admire how beautiful it was and also I was completely fascinated by the weight being so much heaver then I ever imagined. I gifted the metal to both family members on Christmas day (as hard as it was for me to part with it) and upon them opening it they had blank looks of disappointment and seemed dumbfounded and unappreciative. Already, my gift to them had appreciated in value by $1 an oz or more since I bought it for them back in November. I really thought they would like it and I had spent double on them of what I normally would to make sure they were getting nice pieces. Hey,I know this may sound Corney but if I win this little chunk of Au from you it will sit safe and secure on my desk and it will be admired, cherished and appreciated more then you can imagine. I could only wish my gifting had the same effect. I have never touched or felt the weight of gold before. I can only imagine that it is beautiful.
Joe Gillotte says
I been collecting for over 30 years and Providentmetal has helped me along the way thank you
Aaron h says
Happy new year