A sure sign of Christmas approaching is the sight of the Salvation Army bell ringers and red kettles. And while some see the kettles as a place to drop spare change or a few dollars others see them as an opportunity to deposit more valuable goods .
Salvation Army officials around the country have reported anonymous donors have been filling the organization's red kettles this holiday season with diamonds, Krugerrands, jewelry, silver dollars and gold coins.
In Shawnee, Kansas, a Salvation Army collection center was surprised to find a solitary diamond had been dropped into a red kettle located at a Walmart store.
This is the first time someone has left a diamond behind, said the Salvation Army's business manager, Richard Natividad, who has been with the nonprofit for 17 years. "I was amazed," he told KCTV5. "It was neat."
Natividad said he noticed a wadded up piece of paper and almost tossed it into the trash. Upon opening it he discovered a solitary diamond had been hidden inside. This wasn't the first time Natividad has been surprised at what he found in the Christmas kettles. Last year a donor had deposited a gold bar, worth $300 at a Salvation Army red kettle drive in the same area.
Diamonds aren't the only surprise Salvation Army officials have found during 2011 holiday season.
In Frederick, Md., NBC reports, "The Salvation Army received an unexpected and very generous donation when Matt Lerner, owner of Frederick Coin Exchange, dropped five gold South African Krugerrands into a red kettle." Lerner bought the coins back from the Salvation Army for $9,000 and said, he felt "it was important to give back to the community." Lerner claims he had fun trying to sneak the coins into area kettles without being seen by the bell ringer.
For almost 20 years a gold coin has been dropped into donation kettles in Bloomington, Ill. The traditional gift was received last week and is available at auction, reports MSNBC.
Blue Ridge Now reports, in North Carolina a wedding band and engagement ring, along with an appraisal, had been left in a red kettle outside the Fresh Market in Henderson. The rings were given anonymously and were wrapped inside a dollar bill, with no clue to the owner's identity.
Every donation has a story," Salvation Army Capt. Chris Thornhill said. "There's a story behind this ring. There's always a reason for why people donate to the Army."