Gold coin discovered in local Salvation Army Red Kettle

The half-ounce South African Krugerrand is valued at approximately $900.

Kim Schwich, Southwest Minnesota Field Representative for the Salvation Army (far left), joins local volunteer bell ringers Lee and Betty McAllister, Sarah Darling, Milo and Mary Hawkinson, and Hy-Vee Manager Dustin Hain Saturday noon to celebrate the donation of a 1-ounce gold Krugerrand in the red kettle stationed at Hy-Vee. (Julie Buntjer/The Globe)

WORTHINGTON — A half-ounce of pure gold — a South African Krugerrand coin — was discovered in a Salvation Army Red Kettle at Worthington’s Hy-Vee store on Friday. The coin, which was protected by a plastic covering, placed inside a paper envelope with an identifiable sticker and secured in a small manila envelope, is valued at approximately $900.

The tradition of finding a Krugerrand in a Salvation Army red kettle has been going on forever, said Kim Schwich, Southwest Minnesota Field Representative for the Salvation Army, though the coin rarely is deposited into a red kettle outside of Minneapolis or St. Paul. In fact, Schwich said this is only the third time in her 20 years with the Salvation Army that the coin has been dropped in a Nobles County red kettle. A Krugerrand was discovered in the red kettle at Worthington’s Shopko in 2006 and 2007.

“Someone mysteriously drops this in the kettle and then they just walk away,” Schwich said.

Only one other county in her district — Meeker County — has received the Krugerrand in the past two decades — one this year and twice in the past.

“We never know where it’s going to be, or how it’s going to be disguised,” she added. “It is such a treat. This is truly a gift to your community.”


Salvation Army bell ringer Milo Hawkinson figures it was either him or Tom Ahlberg that was ringing the bell when the coin was dropped in the kettle. He said he didn’t see anyone place a small manila envelope in the kettle, so the giver remains a mystery.

“We needed it,” Hawkinson said of the donation. “With this COVID, everything is down.”

Hawkinson, who with his wife, Mary, will each have logged about 50 hours of volunteer bell ringing this season for the Salvation Army, said he’s glad to be getting out and seeing people — despite the coronavirus threat.

“You sit around … and there’s nothing to do,” Hawkinson said. “Here, you come and ring the bell and you see all kinds of people.”

Schwich appreciates all of the volunteers who have stepped up to help this year, when many of their usual volunteers — typically older people — are staying home and staying safe as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. She said the pandemic, while impacting volunteers, has also had a considerable impact on donations.

“It’s horrible this year, but everybody puts in what they can in the kettle,” she said. “It’s very much appreciated.”

Lee and Betty McAllister volunteered this year to collect the donations in Worthington’s three Salvation Army red kettles — located at Hy-Vee, Fareway and Runnings — and make the bank deposits. It was Betty who discovered the coin after they began going through the collection on Friday. She was quite excited about the find, and immediately called local Salvation Army coordinator Cindy Harvey to tell her the news.

The McAllisters have volunteered with the Red Kettle campaign for the past five years, stepping in this year to make the deposits in lieu of bell ringing.


“To me, The Salvation Army is one of the best charities,” said Lee, who was familiar with the organization while working for Nobles County Family Services.

“If we couldn’t help (an individual or family), we’d call The Salvation Army,” he said. The Salvation Army could provide groceries, a hotel room or even a tank of gas — something Family Services couldn’t do.

“Ninety-seven or 98% stays local, so you’re not ringing a bell for New York City,” Lee added.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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