Elmira, NY — An anonymous person left a gold coin worth $500 inside a Salvation Army red kettle outside a grocery store in Elmira, New York.
The coin was wrapped in a $100 bill with a note that read, “This coin is solid gold and worth around $500. God Bless.”
Salvation Army Maj. J. Craig Haggerty said the donation will help a campaign that is $8,000 behind its 2011 earnings. The coin was donated Friday, but was not discovered until Monday when volunteers were counting the donations.
“I’ve never had a gold coin before,” Haggerty said. “I’ve heard about them. When it happened someplace else, I always wondered, ‘Why not here?'”
Haggerty is in his 26th Christmas as a Salvation Army officer and has been manning kettles for 35 years.
A spokeswoman for the Salvation Army said such donations occur a few times a year during the Christmas donation drive. About 400 coins have been found since the first one was donated in Crystal Lake, Illinois in 1982. Gold coins have recently been found in kettles in Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, and North Carolina.
The spokeswoman also said she gets excited to see when the first gold coin will appear.
“It’s phenomenal. It’s something that is fun,” she said.
A 1904 gold coin worth about $1,700 was donated in Mishawaka, Indiana last week. That coin was wrapped in a note that said, “In loving memory of Mimi.”
Salvation Army official Sarah Clark said, “We would love to know who it is. If the person would ever want to contact us and sit down, I’m sure we’d love to hear stories about Mimi. We all feel like we know her.”