Gold coin boosts slow start to annual Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign

A Salvation Army secret donor returns, this time outside a grocery store in Libertyville continuing the much-anticipated holiday tradition of donating gold and silver coins during the annual Red Kettle campaign.

A half ounce South African Krugerrand gold coin valued at $1,200 was discovered Thursday evening in a Salvation Army Red Kettle at a Jewel-Osco in Libertyville.

“It was a huge boost to our morale as a team here,” said Dan Faundez, corps officer at the Salvation Army Waukegan Crops, who found the gold coin. “As we started our Red Kettle campaign a week and a half ago, it was a very slow start.”

“It’s just fascinating how whoever it is doesn’t show any sign of making this a big deal or giving us any hint of who they are,” Faundez said.

Donations received during the Red Kettle drive stay local, so the gold coin will fund programs and services in the Waukegan and Libertyville communities such as rental assistance, food, toiletries, transportation assistance, thrift store vouchers and medical assistance.

Faundez said the need is increasing in Lake County, in part due to the influx of migrants.

Because the Salvation Army has been providing services to immigrants in addition to other clients, Faundez said the resources were used up by August, much earlier than previous years.

The goal is to make the money raised during the Red Kettle campaign last through the next following year.

“It’s very important that we get these funds to continue the work that happens here,” Faundez said. “The need is increasing so we just encourage the community to jump in and help us make a difference for families who are in need.”

For each dollar donated, 93 cents is used to fund the services offered by the Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign dates back to 1891 in San Francisco. Gold and silver coins donated to the Red Kettles have become an anticipated part of the holiday tradition of giving, said a news release from the organization.

The Salvation Army North and Central Illinois Division received 10 gold coins during last year’s Red Kettle campaign, according to the news release.

On the day the gold coin was found, Faundez said the whole bucket of donations was worth about $1,800.

“There’s this amazing mystique about it because the donor is anonymous,” Faundez said. “I like to believe this is like a group effort of different individuals really trying to chip in and make a difference.”