You know the holiday season is here once you start hearing the Salvation Army's bell ringers at the mall.
With their signature red kettles, these volunteers are collecting pocket change to help fund the charity's shelters, soup kitchens, and other projects. Of course, those are all more in demand as the weather gets colder, and shoppers are more generous as Christmas approaches.
But an anonymous donor did more than just leave one more drop in the bucket: someone at a Walmart in Rock Hills, South Carolina left a valuable gold coin in the store's Red Kettle. The charity says it's not unusual to find gold coins in the kettles - especially vintage Mexican pesos - but this coin was different.
An appraisal revealed the coin was a 1980 South African Krugerrand, a one ounce, solid gold coin worth $1,200. The average day spent collecting change with a Kettle raises just $300, so this was extremely generous.
The charity hopes the person who dropped the coin will step forward, so they can thank them properly.
But it turns out gold coins aren't even the weirdest thing that's been dropped in those red kettles.
While there's no telling where gold coins will turn up, the Salvation Army says they're guaranteed to receive one or two each year.
Dropping gold coins has even become an annual tradition in cities like Atlanta, Fargo, Seattle and Tulsa, While Krugerrands are a popular choice, other donors have dropped Swiss francs or vintage American coins. Gold rings are also popular donation items, and one kettle in York, Pennsylvania got 18 gold rings in a single day.
While some people donate their spouse's rings once they pass away, the charity guesses that lots of rings simply fall off people's fingers.
It's hard to explain how a set of gold molars found their way into a kettle (also in York, strangely) in 2005. The payday wasn't so big in that case, because tooth cap gold is apparently less valuable than the gold used to mint coins.
But one anonymous do-gooder showed up everyone when he dropped $10,000 in cash into a kettle, sliding one hundred $100 bills through the slot on the red container. The donation was believed to be the charity's largest ever from a single donor.
But not all that glitters is gold. Bell ringers report that everything from casino chips and Chuck-E-Cheese tokens to fake nails and Viagra pills get dropped into the kettles too. Cash only, please.
Share this story with someone you know!