Salvation Army finds gold coins in local red kettles

By: Kristyne E. Demske | C&G Newspapers | Published December 22, 2017

 Catherine Gulledge rings the Salvation Army red kettle bell at the Kroger on Jefferson Avenue and Marter Road in St. Clair Shores. A gold coin was discovered in her bucket.

Catherine Gulledge rings the Salvation Army red kettle bell at the Kroger on Jefferson Avenue and Marter Road in St. Clair Shores. A gold coin was discovered in her bucket.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

MACOMB COUNTY — It’s becoming one of the best holiday traditions: an end-of-the-year anonymous gift for the Salvation Army.

“This is the third gold coin this year,” said Capt. Andrew Shiels, the Warren corps officer for the Salvation Army. “We got two of them the same night.”

Red kettle counters found a 1980 South African gold Krugerrand in a kettle that was located at Kroger on Jefferson Avenue at Marter Road in St. Clair Shores, and a 1975 gold Engelhard Prospector in a kettle at the Kroger on 13 Mile Road east of Little Mack Avenue in Roseville.

Shiels said it was a great moment when they discovered the first gold coin from St. Clair Shores.

“All of a sudden, somebody said, ‘Hey, this dollar is really heavy,’” he said. “They had wrapped the gold coin in a dollar (bill), so (the counter) couldn’t understand why the green dollar was so heavy. The room was really, really excited.

“It was not probably more than five to 10 minutes later, someone else said something about a gold coin. ... I think we have another one and, sure enough, they were opening another bucket and they found another gold coin.”

Shiels said that a 1980 South African gold Krugerrand had also been found the week before in a kettle in Farmington.

Shiels said that the same bell ringer who collected the gold coin in St. Clair Shores in years past also received it this year.

“She has no clue (who the donor is),” he said. “I think the person intentionally masks it. Catherine (Gulledge, of Roseville,) is an amazing bell ringer. She is super personable.

“My guess is she knows the person, but she doesn’t actually know who is doing it.”

Gulledge said that she recalls receiving at least four gold coins in her kettle over the past few years, plus she has dropped in two collector coins herself. She said she hoped she might get another coin this year.

“I didn’t know when it was going to come,” she said Dec. 20. “This year, they folded it and put it in a dollar bill. I’m kind of curious.”

Shiels said that the Salvation Army has a goal of $7.85 million this year, and receiving the gold coins just helps them achieve that goal. The average collection for each bucket is $500, “so that drastically changes the average in that bucket when, all of a sudden, you get a $1,300 gold coin.”

He said he still has to take the coins to a rare coin dealer he has worked with in the past in Warren, but the Krugerrand could be worth up to $1,400 and the Prospector could be worth $1,000 or more.

The donations help more this time of year as well, Shiels said, because a group of companies is matching donations received before the end of the year.

“It’s at the right time of year,” he said.

Although the donor or donors wish to remain anonymous, Shiels said he wishes to express his gratitude for the donations.

“We just would love to say thank you and we appreciate their generosity,” he said.

To donate to the Salvation Army, visit www.salmich.org, text SALMICH to 41444, call (877) SAL-MICH or send a check or money order payable to the Salvation Army to 16130 Northland Drive, Southfield, MI 48075.