Two valuable coins donated to Salvation Army red kettles

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published December 8, 2021 | Updated December 16, 2021 3:21pm

 Salvation Army Major Matt Grindle holds a 1979 South African gold Krugerrand that was donated in a kettle in St. Clair Shores Dec. 6.

Salvation Army Major Matt Grindle holds a 1979 South African gold Krugerrand that was donated in a kettle in St. Clair Shores Dec. 6.

Photo provided by Salvation Army of Metro Detroit

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“People might have had a more difficult time this year, as well. Someone might not be in the same place they were last year or the year before, so we’re just so thankful.”

Patricia Grindle, Salvation Army of Metro Detroit Major

ST. CLAIR SHORES — Secret Santas are making the holidays bright for the Salvation Army of Metro Detroit with donations in St. Clair Shores and the surrounding area for the ninth year in a row.

A total of four gold coins were dropped into Salvation Army red kettles the week of Dec. 6 — three in St. Clair Shores and one in Roseville.

Sometime on Dec. 6, an anonymous donor had dropped a 1979 South African gold Krugerrand into a Salvation Army red kettle at the post office on Greater Mack Avenue, marking the ninth consecutive year of the same donation in the city. The past eight years, gold Krugerrands have been dropped in a kettle at Kroger on Marter Road, so this marked the first year a gold coin donation was made at the St. Clair Shores Post Office.

“We sure are grateful, and gold is at a pretty high value right now,” Major Matt Grindle, of the Salvation Army in Warren, said after the second donation. “We’re not in the gold investment business, so we will definitely exchange it and put the money toward our kettle goal.”

The Krugerrand is valued around $1,700, the Salvation Army says, and that money will help feed, clothe and support those in need.

“Last year was a really difficult year during COVID,” said Grindle. At the Salvation Army Warren Corps Community Center, the state restricted the capacity of the Macomb’s Answer to Temporary Shelter, or MATTS. “We’re back at full capacity now. We hate to turn people away.”

The organization also provides assistance with rent, utilities and food on a daily basis.

“The more people hear about the needs, the more opportunity people have to respond and are encouraged to respond,” he said.

Each night, after the bell ringers are done collecting donations, the red kettles are brought back to a central location for counting. Kettles from St. Clair Shores are counted at the Warren Corps.

“In the counting room, sometimes we find odd things in the kettle and people think that’s interesting,” Grindle said. “One year, we even found an engagement ring in the kettle, but it turned out to be a mistake and we were able to get it back to the rightful owner.

“If you find a gold coin, that’s at the top of the list of kettle finds.”

The one-ounce gold coin is a “significant contribution by an individual,” he said.

“It’s encouraging to us. This is a big task, to raise money in our Christmas kettles, and the gold coin often serves as a real encouragement to us.”

Just days later, kettle counters discovered that a second gold coin had been donated at Kroger on Marter Road. The coin, a 1975 South African gold Krugerrand estimated to be worth about $1,700, was discovered the night of Dec. 9.

“Everyone was sort of just stunned because we normally receive one, and this year somebody else did it,” said Grindle. “Now it’s got us really confused in a good way.

“Do we actually now have two Secret Santas?”

Then, the Salvation Army of Metro Detroit reported that two more gold coins were donated Dec. 10. A third South African gold Krugerrand, this one from 1983, was donated in the kettle at Sam’s Club on Gratiot Avenue in Roseville, and a different gold coin of unknown provenance was received at Michael Agnello Jewelers on Harper Avenue in St. Clair Shores. Because the Roseville donation was received during Herman Moore’s $84,000 Challenge weekend, the $1,700 donation is doubled by an anonymous donor.

Grindle’s wife, Major Patricia Grindle, said they never want to assume the coin will show up each year.

“People might have had a more difficult time this year, as well,” she said. “Someone might not be in the same place they were last year or the year before, so we’re just so thankful.”

Matt Grindle agreed.

“We don’t want to jinx it, so every year we’re hoping something like this will happen, but we just never know,” he said.

Over the past year, donations to the Salvation Army helped provide more than 2.4 million meals; almost 383,000 nights of shelter; 205,000 Christmas toys and gifts for children and seniors; and the resolution of 1,800 legal issues through the William Booth Legal Aid Clinic. A donation of $1,000 helps to feed, house and counsel a family for a month; $20 provides a basic needs kit; $25 keeps a child warm this winter; $50 assists an emergency disaster victim; and $100 provides one week of meals for a family of four.

To learn more, or to donate, visit centralusa.salvationarmy.org/emi.

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