NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — Red kettles and bell ringers are popular this time of the year.
They’re important to The Salvation Army as well — 1/3 of their annual budget comes from the donations received during their Red Kettle fundraiser.
“Without Christmas, there is no Salvation Army in July,” says Lt. Vinal Lee with The Salvation Army in Fountain Square. That specific Salvation Army is responsible for the red kettles at numerous locations from Hamilton County to Johnson County.
Every night, since the Red Kettle campaign started on November 29, Lt. Lee, his wife Brenna, and some volunteers collect every kettle, bring it back to The Salvation Army, and count all the dollar bills and change. Sometimes, they’re at it until 2 a.m.
Lt. Lee says the number of donations a kettle will receive in a day really depends on the location, and who the bell ringer is. That’s why The Salvation Army will actually send their “best” bell ringers to the most popular locations.
“A good Walmart can bring in anywhere between $400 and $500 in a day,” Lee said.
So you can imagine why it was a big deal when Lee and his counting crew found a unique donation in one kettle last weekend — a 100 Corona Austrian gold coin from 1915, wrapped inside of a $20 bill this week.
He says the coin is worth about $1,500.
“That’s a pretty rare find, but a pretty significant find,” Lee said.
So who was the bell ringer that earned the gold coin donation? A guy whose real name is James Bond.
“He’s an outstanding bell ringer,” Lee said. “Great personality, real personable, and people love donating to him.”
Lt. Lee said the next step with the gold coin is to work with coin collectors to get it auctioned off, to turn it into spendable cash for The Salvation Army.
The Red Kettle fundraiser all across Indiana and the country will end on December 24.
(Photo provided by The Salvation Army)