BY CAROL ROEHM
Danville Salvation Army officials rejoiced about their good fortune Thursday 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 $10 bill and then taped a $1 bill around that and dropped it in the kettle at County Market at the Village Mall sometime Wednesday.
Karen Kirby, a social worker at the Salvation Army, said her niece was counting the money Wednesday night when she made the valuable find.
“She was tickled pink,” Kirby said.
Captain Judy Lowder said she believes the coin is worth about $1,700 — which is an increase from 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 its rarity.
The local Salvation Army, 855 E. Fairchild St., 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.
“The last four years it’s been dropped in the kettle at the County Market at the mall,” Lowder said. “They have always wrapped it in a $10 bill.
“The bell ringer was very excited to hear it was in his bucket,” she said.
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.
In 2005 and 2006, the Krugerrand turned up in the kettle at the Village Mall County Market during the last week of the kettle drive.
Lowder said this year’s red kettle campaign is going well, possibly because there are more kettle locations.
“We have more kettle spots this year, but some aren’t doing as well as others,” she said.
As of Thursday, the local corps has raised $70,000 of its $110,000 goal. The money will cover the local Salvation Army’s day-to-day operations for a year, including social services, programming, paying bills and employees.
The Danville Salvation Army’s kettle drive will continue through Dec. 24, and Lowder said she still is in need of volunteer bell ringers.
“We’re grateful for the few who have volunteered, but we could use more,” she said.
“We’re doing well though. Next week is the last week of the campaign,” Lowder said.
“Some Salvation Army locations have had to ring past Christmas up to January, and some locations start before us,” she said, adding that the local corps is blessed that Danville is a generous community.