PORTLAND, Ore. - The red kettles and ringing bells are a ubiquitous sight and sound at stores this time of year as the Salvation Army raises money to help support their charitable projects through the year.
Among the small bills and loose change dropped in the kettle outside Pioneer Place on Friday, the Salvation Army found a valuable surprise: a solid gold coin valued at around $1,700.
Staff members found the South African Krugerrand while sorting through donations over the weekend. They said it was dropped in the Pioneer Place kettle sometime on Saturday.
Staffers noticed the coin because it was bigger and thicker than any typical coin.
"This is enough to provide over 60 families who are in need with an emergency food box, supply Christmas gifts for dozens of kids, or send several kids to camp for a week next summer," said Salvation Army spokesman Lieutenant Ray Dihle.
An anonymous donor also dropped a Krugerrand in another downtown Portland kettle last year. Dihle said these large donations are what help the Salvation Army meet their fundraising goals during the Christmas season.
"If I could meet the person who dropped that coin in our kettle on Friday," said Dihle, "I would simply say, 'Thank you, you made a difference in your community. You helped your neighbor.'"
KATU reporter Lincoln Graves contributed to this report