The Salvation Army donation kettles are a staple of every Christmas season, and many passerby will drop a few coins — or even a few bills — into the kettle in exchange for a sincere “Merry Christmas” from the bell-ringer. But for a Minneapolis couple, dropping a few cents’ worth of change into the bucket wasn’t enough — so they dropped a check for half a million bucks.
As the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports, the Salvation Army bell ringers on duty Saturday night at the Cub Foods in the Minneapolis suburb of Rosemount — the Rosemount firefighters were working that particular kettle at the time — had no idea that the slip of paper deftly placed in the kettle was anything other than a dollar bill (the Tribune notes that Salvation Army kettles normally bring in about $30 per hour).
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Salvation Army officials, however, were alerted by the couple donating the check that a large donation should be expected, according to CBS News, so an official went out to Cub Foods to grab the check before the volunteer counters would see it and notice the couple’s names (the couple prefers to stay anonymous). The couple had donated large amounts before but never anything approaching half a million.
The couple said in a statement that they made the extremely generous donation because they wanted to pay it back. One of their fathers had served in the trenches during World War I, and he and other soldiers were eternally grateful to the Salvation Army “doughnut lassies” who brought coffee and doughnuts to the soldiers.
The couple also said that they were “inspired” to make their donation because they remembered their younger years when they sometimes relied on discarded food from the grocery store to get by.
“You get to a point in life where it’s time to take care of others, the way you were taken care of.”
Salvation Army official Major Jeff Strickler, the Commander for the Minneapolis/Saint Paul region, said the huge donation was just what the charity needed this season.
“We are simply stunned and honored to have received such a generous gift. This is a true blessing, and it could not come at a better time for the Salvation Army and the people we serve.”
The Twin Cities Salvation Army’s fundraising goal for this Christmas season is $11.6 million, he says, and they were running behind until the donor dropped half a million in the kettle. Now they’re on the same pace they were last year at this time.
For about the last five years or so, another anonymous donor (or set of donors) has also been making generous donations to Salvation Army kettles, dropping about $1,100 each into various kettles under the pseudonym “St. Grand.” It’s not known if the “St. Grand” donor and the generous couple who donated half a million are the same, but Salvation Army officials don’t think so.
Extremely generous donations to Salvation Army kettles aren’t limited to the Minneapolis area, either. Gold coins have turned up in kettles in Mishawaka, Indiana; Springfield, Illinois; and Iowa City, Iowa, among other places. (An ounce of gold, as of this writing, is worth $1,068.00.)
The Twin Cities Salvation Army provides Christmas gifts for about 15,000 children each year, serves 1,200 hot meals every day, provides shelter for more than 900 people each night at area homeless shelters, and helps over 100,000 people with groceries each year.
[Image via Shutterstock/Rob Byron]