The annual tradition of gold coins appearing in Salvation Army red kettles keeps Lake County Salvation Army members guessing year after year.
“It’s fun for us to guess what location will get [a gold coin] this year – will we get more than one?” said Maj. Heather Holman of the Salvation Army Waukegan Corps Community Center on Green Bay Road. “We have fun with it. It’s very exciting.”
So far, 12 gold coins have been dropped in Lake County red kettles this holiday season – three were most recently dropped between Dec. 6 and Dec. 9. The coins were donated anonymously.
Two one-tenth-ounce South African krugerrands, valued at about $128 each, were dropped into Salvation Army kettles at the Walmart in Round Lake Beach and the Jewel in Grayslake, according to a Salvation Army news release.
On Dec. 9, a 1-ounce double eagle gold coin, worth about $1,280, was found wrapped in a $20 bill in the mailbox of The Salvation Army Waukegan Corps Community Center.
These three gold coins join the nine gold coins found last week for a cumulative value of more than $8,500, according to the release.
The philanthropic tradition of dropping gold coins into Salvation Army kettles dates back more than 25 years and is said to have started in McHenry County, according to the release. Since then, Salvation Army has received more than 400 gold coins of every type and description from anonymous donors, according to the release.
Holman said the coins’ value bring the Lake County Salvation Army closer to its goal of raising $500,000 this holiday season. As of Dec. 12, the county Salvation Army had raised nearly $240,000, she said.
Last year, the agency fell short of its $500,000 Red Kettle Campaign fundraising goal by about $100,000, she said.
Red kettles will be available at 73 locations throughout the county until Dec. 24. However, the Red Kettle Campaign will continue through Jan. 31.
Holman said that although the coins are fun to receive, any donation makes a difference.
“It all adds up,” she said.
Money raised benefits local residents in need, including seniors in nursing homes and veterans. Holman said the organization has seen an increase in low-income families reaching out to Salvation Army both this and last year compared with previous years.
“We’re going to be distributing more toys this year than the last few years,” she said.
Holman said it’s difficult to describe how it feels to give back, adding that residents also can “adopt a family in need.”
“They’re so grateful for what they’re getting,” she said. “One woman said, ‘I have no way of cooking food. My family could use a microwave.’ [Through the Adopt-A-Family program] someone did buy a microwave. She was overwhelmed. She started crying and said, ‘I can’t believe it.’
“The Salvation Army is known for helping people in need.”
For those wishing to donate at their computers, virtual Red Kettles are available online. Donors can host a virtual Red Kettle, or sponsor a Red Kettle team, by going to The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division website at www.salarmychicago.org. Visitors to the site can register individually, as a group or a business by completing a registration form.
For information about the Salvation Army Waukegan Corps Community Center, visit salarmychicago.org/waukegan.