Danville Salvation Army officials were rejoicing about their good fortune Tuesday after finding a Krugerrand coin the night before in one of their red kettles.
An anonymous donor carefully wrapped the rare South African gold coin in a taped-up $10 bill and then dropped it in the kettle at the Village Mall County Market sometime on Monday.
“We had just brought in the kettles and started counting the money when we found it,” Captain Judy Lowder said.
The coin is worth about $1,300, which is down compared with last year’s value according to the current gold market.
Krugerrands, which can no longer be obtained in the U.S., are extremely valuable because of the purity of the gold in the coin and their rarity.
The local Salvation Army, 855 E. Fairchild St., a United Way of Danville Area agency, has been fortunate to receive a Krugerrand every year during the last several years, but still the gift is something the corps doesn’t take for granted.
During the years, corps members have speculated the same person — who is possibly local — makes the mystery donation because the coin is always wrapped in a $10 bill, although the kettle locations have varied at times.
“I’m glad that they wrap it in a $10 bill so we don’t lose it or overlook it,” said Sharon Sawka, director of social services.
In 2005 and 2006 as well as 2011 and last year, the Krugerrand turned up in the kettle at the Village Mall County Market.
In addition to the Krugerrand, some other unusual currency has been dropped into the local kettles.
“This is the third unique coin we’ve gotten so far this year,” Lowder said. “We’ve received a very old penny, an old dime from 1911 and two silver certificate dollar bills.”
The currency will be appraised by coin collectors to determine its value, she said.
The corps’ overall goal, which also includes funds raised through its mail appeal that runs until the end of January, is $120,000, which is up from last year’s goal of $115,000. That money covers the local Salvation Army’s day-to-day operations for a year, including social services, programming, bills, employees’ pay, food pantry, Christmas baskets and clothing vouchers and helps citizens pay for utilities, rent or shelter and medicine.
As of Tuesday, the corps had collected less than 50 percent of its goal.
The Danville Salvation Army’s kettle drive will continue through Dec. 24, and the corps is still in need of volunteer bell ringers.
“We need bell ringers very much so,” Lowder said, adding that eight kettle locations went unmanned on Tuesday because of illness or lack of volunteers.
“Our volunteer base is older,” she said. “It would be great if we could get more civic organizations and churches to do it. We only require a two-hour shift.
“If we had some more bell ringers, it would be a wonderful blessing for us,” Lowder said. “Because of how the calendar fell this year, we really lost six days (for the kettle campaign) and with limited locations, we’re hoping for generous donations.”
This year’s kettle locations are at: Big Lots; Big R in Danville and in Tilton; Catlin IGA; CVS on East Main Street and North Vermilion Street; Walgreens on East Main Street and on Fairchild Street; County Market at Towne Centre, Village Mall and Tilton; Priceless Foods; and Wal-Mart.
The red kettle drive ends Dec. 24, but online pledges and mailed-in donations also help the organization meet its annual goal. Donations also may be made online specifically for the Danville corps at http://www.salvationarmyusa.org.
The red kettle drive makes up about one-third of the annual Salvation Army budget, with mail appeals, grant money, United Way money and other donations making up the other two-thirds of the budget.
HOW TO HELP Anyone interested in being a volunteer bell ringer should call the Danville Salvation Army at 442-5911. Individuals can set up a virtual kettle on their Facebook, Twitter or e-mail accounts, with proceeds going directly to the Danville corps, by going to http://www.onlineredkettle.org. Online donations also can be made earmarked specifically for the Danville corps at http://www.salvationarmyusa.org.