With gold prices more than $1,100 an ounce, it’s “like visions of sugar plums” when gold coins are discovered by the ringing bell Santas who count their donations after a long day of volunteering at shopping malls and on street corners. With the season only two weeks old, thousands of dollars in gold has already being dropped anonymously into the Salvation Army charity’s red kettles across the country.
In Florida, the annual “Miracle on Palm Beach Boulevard” appeared once again: The Salvation Army says that for the fourth year in a row a 1908 gold coin was dropped into one of the charity’s famous Red Kettles. And as in the previous instances, had a small label affixed to its case with the words “In memory of Mimi” written on it. The one ounce St. Gaudens Double Eagle collectible coin could fetch at auction even more than the price of gold, which hovers today at $1,200 per ounce.
Sometimes called the Rolls Royce of gold coins, a South African Krugerrand worth $1,200 was anonymously dropped into a kettle in Aurora, Ill., wrapped in a pair of dollar bills.
For the second year in a row, the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign in Iowa City has struck gold, counting a coin worth $120 in one of its collection kettles.
The Salvation Army in Springfield, Ill. received two anonymous gifts last week. Gold coins were dropped in the kettle by Good Samaritans both Saturday and Thursday nights. Major Paul Logan says both pieces were a solid 1 oz gold coin with a Standing Liberty on one side.
In Grundy County, Illinois, volunteers counting last Monday’s red kettle earnings found three half-ounce Liberty gold coins. “Words fail you when someone is that generous,” said Denise Gaska, Executive Director of We Care, a group that services the kettles.
The volunteers found gold coins wrapped in dollar bills for numerous years now, but the identity of the donor or donors still remains a mystery. They also saw a gold wedding ring donated last year. “I kept thinking who would donate gold with the value so high? I fully expected it to be smaller and was preparing myself,” Gaska said.
The Morris Coin Shop, which buys the gold each year, paid $1,800 for the latest donations.
In yet another part of Illinois, two more extraordinary coins — one gold and one silver — were dropped into Salvation Army buckets in Kankakee County last Friday. One gold coin, a $50 American Eagle 2009 series, worth about $1,100, was dropped into the bucket at the Jewel grocery store, while over at the Walgreens someone donated a $20 American Liberty coin 2004 series, valued at about $100.
In Ottumwa, Iowa, kettle volunteers found a folded $100 bill, which in fact, was the least surprising part of the donation. Inside were three 1889 sovereigns, British coins about the size of a nickel made of gold. Each is worth about $230.
Capt. Rick Ray of the Salvation Army in Galesburg, Ill. said last year two gold coins were quietly dropped into one kettle, earning the group $1,800. “I believe I’ve gotten them for four years now,” Ray said. He hopes the tradition continues this year.
Denise Gaska hopes people will follow in these anonymous donors’ footsteps and step up to help — this year more than ever.