BERLIN, Vt. — It is a tradition that seems almost as old as Christmas in Vermont. An anonymous donor recently dropped a gold coin into a Salvation Army red kettle.
This time, the gold coin was wrapped inside a taped $5 bill, WCAX-TV reported. It was found in a kettle outside the Walmart at the Berlin Mall, according to WPTZ-TV. The money was being collected for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign.
“It started off like any other night,” Maj. Keith Jache of the Salvation Army told WCAX. “So me and a couple of our volunteers were sitting around, we were counting the money for the night and all of a sudden a $5 bill came out and it was taped. And our first thing was like, ‘Who is trying to be funny?’”
Jache decided to cut the tape from the bill and realized that nobody was playing a joke.
“There was a gold coin in there,” Jache told the television station. “You’ve heard of it happening in other places and they’re usually worth a couple hundred dollars, so when we got it appraised and he said, ‘Yes, it is real and it is worth $2,000,’ we were overly happy and overly blessed to receive it.”
Gold coins have been found in the kettles at the Berlin Mall before. Previously, 1908 and 1909 quarter eagles -- with a face value of $2.50 but worth much more now -- were found in consecutive years by Salvation Army volunteers, the Rutland Herald reported.
Jache did not reveal the denomination or the year of the gold coin that was donated this year, but it is likely a piece more than a century old due to its appraised value. Regardless, he is grateful for the donation.
“We stand out here in all kinds of weather and we try to raise as much funds as we can so we can help the most people,” he said.
A Barre resident called the generous gift a Christmas miracle.
“Oh, my God,” Linda Floyd told WCAX. “Christmas is that time of year when special blessings come and you don’t know where they come from.
“That is something that happens once in forever, you know?” she said. “For me, as a person, that is just a true blessing.”
“It just makes you so happy,” Jache told the television station. “It’s that Christmas spirit and knowing it’s because of that generosity we get to help others.”