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A golden gift for Salvation Army: Grand Forks group received coin worth $1,600 from anonymous donor

Salvation Army Maj. Jonathan Fjellman holds the 1982 South African Krugerrand that was dropped into a Salvation Army kettle in Grand Forks this past Christmas. The coin, valued at about $1,600, was sold to a local coin collector. Herald photo by John Stennes.

For the second bell-ringing season in a row, an anonymous donor has dropped a gold coin, worth about $1,600, into a Grand Forks Salvation Army kettle.

It happened sometime in December at the Home of Economy in the city's north end, according to the Army's Maj. Jonathan Fjellman.

The South African Krugerrand, dated 1982, weighed about an ounce and is similar in size to a quarter but thicker, he said. It was sold to a local individual, he said.

In December 2010, an anonymous donor also dropped a Krugerrand, valued then at $1,450, at Home of Economy.

"It's amazing to receive a coin like this," Fjellman said. Also, two $100 bills were placed in the kettle at Home of Economy during the recent Christmas season.

No one currently working at the Salvation Army remembers any other gift of this type of coin, although Krugerrands have been donated to the Salvation Army in North Dakota and Minnesota before, he said. "We're just happy they gave it. It's a very valuable coin."

Krugerrands, considered a legal tender, are a popular way to invest in gold, and the South African mint markets them as a way to sell the country gold.

Making impact

The Krugerrand donated this year helped the Grand Forks Salvation Army raise $345,020, a bit shy of the overall goal, $351,000, for the holiday season.

Christmas fund raising accounts for about 41 percent of all funds raised annually by the Salvation Army, Fjellman said.

"The kettles did well," he said. They brought in $126,800; the largest single kettle donation, about $18,000, was received at the Scheel's sporting goods store.

Hugo grocery stores' add-a-dollar campaign netted about $27,000 at all stores, he said. Money raised at outlying Hugo's stores, in Jamestown, Crookston and Thief River Falls, remains in those communities.

Valley Dairy station stores, with numerous locations in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, contributed more than $20,000 from its one-day, "Big Ring" event.

Providing help

With holiday season funds, the Salvation Army helped 455 households, providing food and toys for children, Fjellman said. A total of 1,429 people, including 764 kids, received assistance.

"That doesn't include the nearly 500 kids who benefitted from the area 'Sox for Kids' program that's run through the Salvation Army," he said. From that campaign, about $50,000 was divided among underprivileged kids to buy gifts for family members.

The Salvation Army also uses funds for food, clothing, rents, utility costs, medications and special items given during visits to nursing homes.

"We want to say thank you to the community for the great support they gave us," Fjellman said. "They really came through for us. It's fun to be part of this community."