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It’s the holiday season, and one tradition we’ve all grown accustomed to is the Salvation Army donation kettles and bell ringers posted up outside every mall and grocery store in town. Many of us will drop some coins or small bills as we attempt to give to charity amidst all of the consumer spending. But what about a $1,200 gold bar donation? A wedding ring? Both happened this year…here are the stories.

A woman from Texas placed her late husband’s wedding ring into the kettle this month, along with a note describing the ring, which was gold with a small diamond. The note also had a Christmas greeting and a saying that was a favorite of her husband’s: “don’t take any wooden nickels.” Clearly, it was a generous donation that meant a lot to her.

Word spread about the donation, and the ring was appraised at about $250. The donor, who never expected to see the ring again, then got quite a surprise. An anonymous donor heard about the story and matched her donation in cash so the ring could be returned to her. The problem was that she never signed the note, so volunteers did not know who to contact to return the ring.

When the original donor heard, she contacted the Salvation Army, claiming to be the donor, and proved who she was by reciting the “wooden nickel” quote she had written on the note. The ring was returned to her. Turns out she had given the ring to her husband during their first Christmas together.

On a separate occasion in Indiana this year, a Salvation Army donation kettle got quite the “clank” when a generous donor dropped a gold bar into it. The 1-ounce gold bar was valued at $1,200. As volunteers were collecting the donations, one was very excited to find a $50 bill in the collection. But, just a few minutes later, the $50 bill was outshined, literally, by the $1,200 gold bar.

The volunteer said it was the largest donation she had ever seen.

Another anonymous person seized the opportunity and privately agreed to pay cash for the gold bar to keep for his collection, so the Salvation Army could use the cash instead.

Happy Holidays!