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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Salvation Army finds gold coin in store kettle for sixth year in row

Salvation Army Major Steve Ball holds a South African Krugerrand coin Monday that was dropped into a red kettle last week at the Fred Meyer Wandermere location. (Dan Pelle)
Salvation Army Major Steve Ball holds a South African Krugerrand coin Monday that was dropped into a red kettle last week at the Fred Meyer Wandermere location. (Dan Pelle)

For the sixth year in a row, an anonymous donor has dropped a 1-ounce gold piece wrapped in a $100 bill into a Salvation Army kettle at the Wandermere Fred Meyer store.

The donation was made on Friday afternoon and brightened the spirits of the Salvation Army’s money counting crew when they discovered it Monday morning.

The price of gold was just under $1,200 an ounce on trading markets Monday.

As in past years, the donated coin is a 22-karat South African Krugerrand.

“It’s a boost for our campaign,” Major Steve Ball said. “It’s money for the poor, but it also brings a sense of joy to our staff and volunteers.”

Workers had been wondering if and when the coin might appear, he said, and with Christmas approaching, they were getting a little antsy about it.

“When it comes, it’s like a party in there,” he said of the counting room atmosphere.

Salvation Army officials said they have learned the identity of the man who is making the Krugerrand donations but that he wishes to remain anonymous. They described him as a collector.

The donor has always dropped the coin and cash into the kettle located at the left-side entrance at the Fred Meyer at Wandermere on North Division Street and Hastings Road.

As always, the bell ringer who received the donation had no idea what went into the kettle, officials said.

Similar donations of gold coins have been made across the U.S. for at least a decade.

In Indiana, Missouri and Florida, gold dental work was dropped into kettles this season, according to news reports.

Ball said this year’s kettle drive in Spokane is running just ahead of last year and should take in more than the $212,000 received in 2013.

The annual giving rises and falls depending on the number of days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, he said. This year’s drive has 29 days compared with 28 days in 2013.

Giving usually picks up in the last days leading to Christmas, Ball said. Volunteers staff the kettles.

Fred Meyer also hosted this year’s mayors’ challenge in which mayors from Spokane, Coeur d’Alene, Rathdrum and Fernan Lake Village staffed red kettles and collected $22,000 in a friendly competition in the fourth annual Red Kettle Ring-Off.

The Salvation Army in Spokane serves more than 40,000 people annually.

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