- Allyson Brown Staff Writer
A mysterious Secret Santa has again dropped a more than a $1,000 gold coin in a Salvation Army red kettle in Springfield.
It happened on Black Friday at Kroger on North Bechtle Avenue in Springfield. It’s the third year in a row that someone has donated similar gold coins, said Ryan Ray, development director of the Salvation Army of Clark County.
“We don’t know who is doing this but it surely is incredibly awesome and inspiring,” he said.
The gold coin is always wrapped in a $100 bill, including this year. It was valued at about $1,300 this year, not including the $100 bill. The coin will be sold and the proceeds used to help families who need Christmas assistance this year.
“For us, it’s incredible to know someone is out there, that does not want the recognition, does not want to be known,” Ray said. “They just want to give and know we are going to turn this this gold coin … into hope.”
The Salvation Army has nicknamed the mysterious donor the “Gold Coin Phantom,” Ray said.
No one knows who the man or woman is but Salvation Army kettle bell ringer Angela Dalton believes she might.
“It’s kind of weird because he came around the back and dropped the coin real quick and then tried to pretend like he did not drop anything at all,” Dalton said.
He walked away so quickly she didn’t have time to thank him and wish him happy holidays until after he left the store, she said.
“I know who you are but I’m still going to keep it a secret… so nobody else can know,” Dalton said.
The organization appreciates what the phantom has done, Ray said, and the money will be used to the best of the Salvation Army’s ability for the community.
The nonprofit has a waiting list for children in need of holiday gifts.
“Roughly about a thousand families have signed up for Christmas assistance here in Clark County,” Ray said.
The organization also helps the Clark County Jail with toys for children whose parents are incarcerated.
“There’s a lot of helplessness out there,” Ray said. “We aim to help those who are falling through the cracks — the at-risk children that are dubbed throwaways, the adults who feel desperate. A lot of their basic needs aren’t being met.”
The red kettle campaign is the Salvation Army’s biggest fundraiser.
It also pays for a program for homeless men, after-school programs for kids and more.
Last year’s kettle campaign brought in about $130,000. The organization says that for every dollar donated to the Salvation Army in Clark County, 83 cents goes back to the community.
At this time, it’s slightly behind where it was last year but Ray believes ground will be made up by Christmas. He also has a message for the Gold Coin Phantom.
“We love you. We respect your humility,” he said. “We so appreciate that you would entrust us with a $1,300 gift like this and you believe in us to that degree.”