A golden surprise ends up in a Salvation Army red kettle in Anaheim Hills

ANAHEIM – Santa tossed a present into a Salvation Army red kettle over the weekend.

A Canadian gold coin valued at about $1,200.

“It popped out,” said Salvation Army spokesman Kevin White. “I’ve seen silver dollars, old coins, collectables, but not something like this.”

The $50 one-ounce coin of pure gold that an anonymous donor dropped into the kettle features a maple leaf on one side and Queen Elizabeth on the other. It was dropped in sheathed in a plastic coin-collector cover.

Volunteers discovered it Monday morning when they unlocked the kettle that was manned by a bell-ringing volunteer outside a Hobby Lobby store in Anaheim Hills.

“We are very grateful for the support we receive from the community throughout the year, and especially at Christmas-time when a significant portion of our fundraising takes place,” Captain Nigel Cross, Orange County coordinator, said in a statement.

Last year, the Salvation Army kettles – an ubiquitous Christmas-time fixture outside some 75 shops and strip malls across Orange County – brought in about $350,000.

The money helps fund programs such as an emergency shelter in Santa Ana, youth centers in Tustin and Anaheim, and those that assist families in need.

“When they drop a gift into the kettle, it’s totally anonymous,” White said. “They give from the heart, and they give to change the lives of other people.”

Nationally, there is a bit of a trend going on. This holiday season, gold coins have been anonymously dropped into kettles in Ohio, Indiana, Florida and Iowa.

Contact the writer: 714-704-3777 and rkopetman@ocregister.com

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