Gold coins pop up in Salvation Army kettles

Claudine Zap

The holiday season means those ever-present Salvation Army red kettles are out in force. That also means the tradition of anonymously slipping gold coins into the kettle has started up again.

At a Sam's Club in southwest Houston, a 1-ounce gold coin that was dropped into a kettle is worth about $2,000. Talk about a pot of gold. A note attached to the coin read, "A child is born, Jesus! Merry Christmas!"

The secret Santas have a tradition that goes back five years in Houston. In Bettendorf, Iowa, where a quarter-ounce gold coin worth $500 was left in a kettle, the annual Yuletide donation has been going strong for 15 years.

The surprise gold coins (worth much more than their face value) have also shown up in Kankakee, Ill., and Johnson County, Tenn., according to NBC News.

In Mishawaka, Ind., a 1904 $20 gold piece valued at $1,800 was dropped into a red kettle on Saturday.

Major Bob Webster of the Salvation Army told local news station WSBT, "Isn't it awesome that people really just sometimes do things for the right reason to be able to help somebody, and they don't have to have all the pomp and circumstance that goes with it."