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Bell ringers get gold coins, ring

You may toss some spare change into the Salvation Army red kettle outside your local grocery store, but would you believe what other people throw into them?

By Giselle Smith Dec 6, 2011 5:11PM

The Salvation Army's annual Red Kettle Campaign, which posts bell ringers outside stores and on street corners all over the United States, has seen some generous -- and unusual -- donations this year.

In the Spokane, Wash., area, bell ringers reported finding a diamond ring, worth $5,000, wrapped in a dollar bill, KREM 2 News reported. They also found a 1-ounce silver coin wrapped in a note explaining that the donor had held onto it for 20 years, and though unemployed for more than a year, facing foreclosure and bankruptcy, "I still know there are families in worse shape," the donor wrote.

In the Chicago area, bell ringers found their first gold coin of the season on Dec. 2 -- a 1-ounce solid gold South African Krugerrand worth almost $1,800, The Beacon-News reported. The Aurora Salvation Army has been receiving anonymous gold coin donations -- usually wrapped inside a dollar bill -- for the past four or five years, said Antonio Romero, a Salvation Army captain.

Tulsa, Okla., has also seen gold coin donations in recent years, possibly by a repeat donor, KJRH News reported. A Liberty gold coin, worth about $1,800, was dropped in a kettle there on Dec. 3.

Elsewhere, a kettle in Fort Myers, Fla., revealed a $20 gold coin, according to The Miami Herald. (Meanwhile, a Salvation Army bell ringer in Naples, Fla., was arrested Dec. 3, allegedly for stealing about $600 from his own and another kettle, the Naples Daily News reported.)

Other interesting donations so far this year, reported on the Salvation Army Blog:

Donations reported in past years have included South AfricanKrugerrandsin Colorado, Hawaii and Louisiana; gold wedding bands in Indiana; and a gold nugget family keepsake in Florida. Post continues below.

Salvation Army donations down

The annual Red Kettle donation drive, now in its 120th year, raises millions of dollars nationwide to help more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. between Thanksgiving and Christmas, according to the Salvation Army. Red kettles also collect donations in other countries, including Korea, Japan and Chile.

Though Reuters reports that "several recent surveys indicate that charities and nonprofits can expect giving to be more bountiful at the end of 2011, particularly compared to the last two years," some Salvation Army chapters are reporting that donations are down in their communities.

Together, Salvation Army chapters in Columbia and Jefferson City, Mo., are $60,000 behind on local donations, KOMU TV reported. The local chapters' annual budgets depend heavily on money raised during the Red Kettle Campaign.

And in Lakeland and Winter Haven, Fla., the Salvation Army chapters are behind on donations of both clothing and toys, The Ledger reported.

New ways of giving

The Salvation Army opened the door to new high-tech ways to donate to the kettles last month when it announced that bell ringers would use on-site smartphones equipped with credit card readers to accept non-cash donations in select cities, including San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas and New York.

The Salvation Army is also collecting holiday donations online through its Online Red Kettle program, which accepts credit card payments. The online campaign has raised $332,177 toward its $3 million goal for this season.

Have you thrown any spare change -- or diamond rings -- into a bell ringer's kettle this year? And do you expect your overall holiday season donations to be more or less than previous years'?

More on MSN Money:

Dec 6, 2011 11:08PM
Christmas is coming. Think about these.
As you open your pockets for the next donation, natural disaster, please keep these facts in mind:

· The American Red Cross President and CEO Marsha J. Evans salary for the year was $651,957 plus expenses, and a $ 65k sign on bonus.

· The United Way President Brian Gallagher receives a $375,000 base salary along with numerous expense benefits.

· UNICEF CEO Caryl M. Stern receives $1,200,000 per year (100k per month) plus all expenses including a ROLLS ROYCE . Less than 5 cents of your donated dollar goes to the cause.


· The Salvation Army's Commissioner Todd Bassett receives a small salary of only $13,000 per year (plus housing) for managing this $2 billion dollar organization. 96 percent of donated dollars go to the cause.

· The American Legion National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary. Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth!

· The Veterans of Foreign Wars National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary. Your donations go to help Veterans and their
families and youth!

· The Disabled American Veterans National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary. Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth!

· The Military Order of Purple Hearts National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary. Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth!

· The Vietnam Veterans Association National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary. Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth!

Dec 6, 2011 8:27PM
I am Viet Nam era.  When I was in the Army I spent some time in an Army hospital in New Jersey.  My wife and daughter were in Oregon.  When I asked the Red Cross, the Army Chaplain, and the USO for help I got red tape.  When I asked the Salvation Army representative I got helped.  The Sally had a servicmen's center in Philadelphia that only active duty could stay at so when I could get out of the hosipital and get a pass I went there on a few weekends and they gave me an air conditioned room shared with only one guy, with TV and a home cooked breakfast by granny ladies (have another pancake sonny? more eggs?) for $3 a night.  The Sally has got all my charity money ever since.  Nobody working at Sally gets rich.  They are all there because they feel a calling.  How many hundred thousand a year does the head of United Way take home?  'Nuff said.
Dec 6, 2011 7:49PM
The Salvation Army helped up 40 years ago when we needed temporary assistance. The state wouldn't offer any help because we owned a car (they said sell the car and buy food). The Salvation Army emptied their shelves of baby supplies for our 2 month-old baby and then one month later actually called us to see if we needed anything. Since I had found a job we didn't need further help, but what they did for us was truly a Godsend. I will always donate to Salvation Army.
Dec 6, 2011 11:21PM

Based on the amount that goes to help the needy vs. "overhead" S.A. is the ONLY charity that I give to any more ! And I don't limit my donations to them to Christmas, they help folks year round. When the top Officer in the organization makes  only 13K plus housing for a yearly salary, with an annual outlay of hundreds of millions of dollars(donated to folks in need) and he administers the entire budget, it just makes sense to donate to the organization.

Too bad the Red Cross is so profit motivated....they collect far more $$$ per year than does the SA, and return far LESS to those in need. And usually try to bill for it, after the crisis is over.

The S.A. just GIVES.

Dec 6, 2011 10:44PM
After taking a job transfer to another state and not being able to ship any household goods, and everything was unaffordable when we moved I sought help from the SA. They provided me with bunk beds for my kids, plates, silverware, sheets and even provided some very much appreciated used toys as my family literally had nothing but a few clothes and the cars we had.  Today I sold my donated items for 300.00 and will donate it all back to the SA. So do I think the SA helps those in need of course they do and so each yr as I become better off financially I will donate more and more to them.
Dec 6, 2011 9:06PM
This comment is to Robert Henry.  Ask yourself, you damand that people don't give to the SA, because they didn't have the money to help 2 families.  I know of hundereds of people that they have helped.  There are times within a month that all of the money might be gone, but as they can, or they can contact other agencies, I know for a fact that they do help.  Let me put it this way, the only place that I make it a point of helping in any way that I can is the Salvaton Army.  They help many.  One year I was stranded by Donner Summit.  They gave us a place for the night when all of the hotels were filled with the building of the MGM grand.  Ever since then, we have tried to help.  Our local Salvation Army is fantastic.  I know for a fact that they help this community.  They are good people.  Just because an agency runs out of money is probably the most reason to help them.  Don't you get it?
Dec 6, 2011 7:23PM
The Salvation Army Thrift Stores support the Adult Rehabilitation Centers, where men and women go for effective longer term drug and alcohol treatment and rehabilitation.   They do not support the local corps.  If a corps does not have enough money to give out, it has nothing to do with the stores as they are totally separate ministries and budgets.
Dec 6, 2011 9:46PM
The Salvation Army does run out of funds at times, like all charities.  The thrift stores do not give funds or supplies upon request.  If you are asking there, you will be told that fact.  They will give you a number to call, however.  I can certify that the Salvation Army in Kansas City helped my grandson repeatedly, that he would have otherwise starved and frozen to death.  I can attest to other times that I know of that the Salvation Army was on the job.  BTW, my grandson was never asked to repay anything, and never charged for staying in shelter.  I believe the Salvation Army is the most solid charity available.  Their executive officers are not over paid, they are provided modest (donated) housing as part of their salary.  Above 90% of donations are actually funneled back to the aid being provided to those who need it.  I can cite time after time when I know for certain that the SA have been there to help when others were not.  Those lovely canteens that roll out to provide service can only roll if there is money to pay for the fuel and supplies.  Think about that.
Dec 7, 2011 12:16AM
My father-in-law would never give to the Red Cross, only the Salvation Army. He told us that when he came off the front during WWII in Italy, the Red Cross charged the soldiers a dime for a bar of soap and a nickel for a razor.  The Salvation Army gave them those same items for FREE!  My husband and I try to put in a few dollars each holiday season when passing by a kettle.
Dec 7, 2011 1:11AM
I worked for The Salvation Army for more than 25 years and in several cities and states. No matter where you go they will help. You may not always get what you want, but you will get what you need, a listening ear, a helping hand, no judgment and no expectation of repaying what you received. They are careful with the money because it is not THEIR money it is GOD's and they are responsible first to Him and then to the people they help and then to the community.  They do not provide cash, and I don't know of any charities that do.  I have worked in human services for 35 years, and over all the most fair and giving and accountable is The Salvation Army!
Dec 6, 2011 8:59PM
Each and every year we try to help out, either volunteering and giving, or just giving.  We started the grandchildren out early ringing with us for short while, KMart lets ringers stand inside the doors, and kids really generate larger donations., Sitting at the Angel Tre, the twins began as laptop babies, although I don't even see people sitting with the tree at all anymore.  This year they surpirsed us and went to the Salvation Army and cleaned up after a meal, they're 12.  They said they can't wait to go and shop for an angel, which we have to do soon.  I know that our local S.A. has just had a huge expense with redoing the basement  of the SA store, so this year, especially, with as many people that they help, lets not forget to help to donate for the structures themselves as they house people, and things for people and every 40 years or so things need repair.
Dec 6, 2011 8:55PM
Robert, you say you know two famlies in need of help. Have you helped? Have you donated to any group that might help them? Where do the funds come from? Be part of the solution. And before you ask, yes I have and do.While putting my spouse thru school,and working two full time jobs.
Dec 6, 2011 7:06PM

There is a reason why they wrap it in a dollar bill. so people dont see it and try to steal from the Salvation Army. Thats just giving people more reason to rob...idiots

Dec 7, 2011 2:12AM
TheSouth African Krugerrands  Deposited in the Chicago Kettle, can probably be traced to the Deceased Father Fredrick Nicholas Schmidt of Pardeeville, Wisconsin's Estate.  Having served as a missionary priest in South Africa during the late 1970's, he brought several cases containing large amounts of these coins back into the United States to be used at a later date by those wishing to do good in Chicago.  There are family's there that were recipients of his personal blessings.  I am sure that these families are donating in his memory and to help those in the most need.
Dec 7, 2011 8:39AM

Having worked for them also, I can tell you for a fact that The Salvation Army utilizes nearly all private donations from Kettles and Mail Appeals for supporting the minister, his family and other "necessities" like multiple private vehicles, the gasoline, cells, laptops, cable, utilities, their food supplies, kids' school costs, etc. The money used for services generally is from government sources and is limited to direct services only, or they would probably use that for the ministers' needs also. Most of the ministers are very well off financially, despite what is claimed in the news, and their living situation is upper middle class to elite.

The Kettle donations of gold, jewelry, etc are often Public Relations tricks by The Salvation Army to generate publicity and to encourage others to give such precious heirlooms. Look at this agency's national/world budget, they bring in billions yearly and really don't need a $5,000 ring or any donations. They are mega-business, corporate and have billions in trust funds set aside to buy houses for their own, the ministers that run the place. They have thousands of officers, wives, children and their other relatives all sucking down salaries thanks to your hard donations.

Give your money and jewelry to small local charities,that will likely use it to actually help people-that makes a difference, not giving a thousand dollars to a corporation that brings in billions yearly.

Dec 7, 2011 1:32AM

I know why people are donating less! It is because they are buying shiny $800 Apple products!

Dec 7, 2011 12:21AM
Why do people need to know these things? Just because there were large donations that are anonymous doesn't mean they have to be in the news! Maybe these people made anonymous donations so people wouldn' t know who it was and they wouldn't have to deal with the press! Maybe these people are just giving in the spirit of the season! That's what I do when I donate to such Charities! If they wanted to get national attention for it, they would've signed a big check and took a picture with it and put it in the New York Times! Give these people a break. The people who donate like that are the only reason this country runs smoothly. ( for the most part) they do stuff because they know its the right thing to do, not just for good publicity. America needs more people like that.
Dec 6, 2011 10:42PM
I know the SA does some pretty great things with all that money. Where I live they always have a hot meal and help buy toys for Christmas for people with little kids that are down on there luck. I found a very neat story that I would like to share, I called the newspaper and found that the SA is not able to help this person with their needs. They did provide them with Thanksgiving dinner and will provide Christmas as well. I hope you all will take the time to read it and let it bless your life as it has mine. If you have a little extra this year maybe you could pass it on as well. Also be sure to read the comments below the article for the correct information, there was a misprint in the article for contact info. God bless you all and Happy Holiday !!! Check the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and search single mom fights kidney disorder. Sorry it will not let me post the link.
Dec 6, 2011 7:22PM
Really Stevea11, you actually hope my house burn's down, what are you CFO of Salvation Army, you're an idiot, and even being that you're an idiot, I don't want your house to burn down
Dec 6, 2011 10:40PM
To jonsmom, yes we have helped them as much as we can, we go to garage sales and thrift store's and buy furniture and clothes for them, we also have a program we do that we buy bicycles for any kid in the neighborhood who does'nt have one. What do you do??????
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