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St. Clair Shores — A secret Santa has been dropping more than just spare change into Michigan Salvation Army red kettles for the past six years.

While bringing the kettles in for the day on Wednesday night, a Salvation Army official noticed a shiny gold coin wrapped up in a dollar bill. 

"As we were going through the kettle, we noticed someone had wrapped the coin in a $1 bill and slipped it in without it being noticed," said Major Candace Voeller, a Corps Officer for the Salvation Army in Warren. "We knew immediately what it was because we’ve been fortunate enough to receive six of these in the past."

The 1980 South African gold Krugerrand was dropped into the kettle Wednesday at a Kroger in St. Clair Shores. The coin, valued at $1,300, will help the Metro Detroit campaign reach its $8.2 million goal this year, Voeller said. 

Since 2013, the mysterious and generous individual or individuals have deposited Krugerrand coins into the red bucket always around the same time frame and location. The Salvation Army believes it’s the same person based on tracking the last few years, but say there’s no way to tell.

"We’re not sure who it is, but because it’s been year after year for the last several years, we think it might be the same person," Voeller said. "We’re thankful for them and their desire to give back to their community. We’re beneficiaries of their generosity."

Krugerrand, a one-ounce gold coin of South Africa, was first issued in 1967. It was issued for investment purposes and bears a portrait of Transvaal President Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger.

The Salvation Army has received a Krugerrand at the St. Clair Shores Kroger each year since 2013. Krugerrands also were found in kettles at a drug store in Bangor Township in 2013 and 2014. The Salvation Army also found a 1997 Gold Eagle coin at a Kroger in Garden City in 2016 and a 1925 gold Engelhard Prospector donated at a Roseville Kroger in 2017.

Wednesday's donation brings the total to six coins that have been donated since 2013 with an estimated value of nearly $7,400.

The Salvation Army plans to cash in the coins to use the money to financially support the programs they offer.

"It tremendously helps us meet our goal this year and it'll be put back into the community ,whether it is a winter coat, food pantry, drug and alcohol treatment centers, summer day camp programs and emergency relief in Metro Detroit," Voeller said. "We're out until Christmas Eve. Come see us."

srahal@detroitnews.com
Twitter: @SarahRahal_

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