It’s not just pennies and dimes that people dump into those iconic red Salvation Army kettles at the holidays – some people see it as a chance to unload unlucky wedding jewelry, cumbersome stacks of $100 bills and even gold teeth. These are just eight of the most unusual items discovered in the donation pots.
1. Rare gold coins. Gold coins seem to turn up every year, with the latest being the recent discovery of a 1922 gold Swiss franc coin in a Kansas City kettle. It should bring in somewhere between $275 to $400. Coins found in past years have included the American Double Eagle, Quarter Eagle and an 1804 silver dollar. The silver dollar turned out to be counterfeit, which is too bad – the 1804 silver dollar is one of the most valuable coins in the world.
2. Diamond rings. Quite a few rings that appear to be engagement or wedding bands have been found in kettles over the years. The Salvation Army usually holds on to them just in case a donor accidentally dropped their jewelry in along with some change, but in most cases, they’re completely intentional. One anonymous donor even included a note with hers that said, “Hope you have better luck with this than I did.”
3. Gold bullion.
A 1978 South African Krugerrand was dropped into a kettle in Iowa in 2006, but it’s not the only Krugerrand the Salvation Army has received. Just last year, a Kokomo, Indiana, bell-ringer discovered a Krugerrand worth $1,600 in his kettle.
4. Stacks of Benjamins. For the past two years, someone in Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia, has been gifting the Salvation Army with large wads of $100 bills. It happened again yesterday. An anonymous man dropped his donation into the kettle, then said “Merry Christmas, remember me?” When they pulled the money from the pot later that night, the volunteers kept finding piles of $100 bills – 55 individual bills in all. They suspect the grand gift may be from more than one person.
Perhaps taking note of all of the “Cash for Gold” booths that have popped up in the past few years, one donor in Prescott, Arizona, donated 12 baggies, each containing jewelry and a note. The notes read, “A little gold can go a long way.” He or she dropped them in different kettles located all over the city. The pieces were valued from $40 to $275, totaling $1,000 in all.
6. Checks. Big checks. A few years ago, a Minneapolis man who requested anonymity donated exactly $14,845. Wouldn’t you like to know why? Did he receive that exact amount from an inheritance or something along those lines, or did he have a more specific reason for donating $14,845?
7. Gold teeth. They’re not exactly five golden rings, but someone meant well. In 2005, a kettle in York, Pennsylvania, turned up two golden molars. “It’s a wonderful gesture, I guess,” said Maj. Darren Mudge.
8. Five golden rings. In keeping with “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” a contributor donated exactly five golden rings a few years ago. It’s grown into something of a trend now – the Salvation Army reports finding plain gold bands on a fairly regular basis now.