News Column

Secret Santa Slips Gold Coin Into Salvation Army Kettle

Dec. 22, 2011

Stacia Glenn

A Secret Santa discreetly dropped a valuable treasure in a Salvation Army kettle in University Place in Tacoma, Wash., this week.

A volunteer sorting bills from change Wednesday morning found the South African Krugerrand, a rare gold coin valued for its purity.

The coin is believed to be worth about $1,700. Salvation Army officials are working with a local coin dealer to sell it for the highest bid.

The donation was made at Fred Meyer, 6305 Bridgeport Way W.

"It was wrapped in a one-dollar bill and placed into the kettle," corps officer Major Warren Dabis said. "It was rather conspicuous and incredible."

But, it wasn't overly surprising.

Dabis said someone -- possibly the same generous someone -- dropped a Krugerrand into a Salvation Army kettle at the same location within the last two years.

The coins have also begun to appear somewhat frequently in kettles around the country. Just this year, Krugerrands have been found in Fort Myers, Fla.; Carlisle, Pa.; Portland, Ore.; Lincoln, Neb.; Cynthiana, Ky.; Atlanta, Ga.; and Fort Collins, Colo.

In fact, volunteer Maryanne Pongedahl said a prayer earlier in the week asking that she find a Krugerrand in a Salvation Army kettle here.

"All of a sudden I heard this scream," Dabis said. "She produced this unusual looking gold coin and we knew."

The South African Krugerrand was first minted in 1967. Its popularity surged so unexpectedly that other nations followed suit, with Canada producing the Maple Leaf in 1979 and the United States producing the Gold Eagle in 1986.

A Krugerrand weighs one ounce. It is 91.7 percent gold. The rest is copper to make the coin more durable. Connie Moravek, who heads donor relations for the Salvation Army, said she was elated when she learned of the discovery Wednesday.

"You hear stories about people putting special coins in kettles," she said. "When I heard, I went, 'Oh my gosh, someone dropped something special in our kettle.'"

Source: (c) 2011 The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)

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