A Golden Start to Red Kettle Season in Harrisburg

Dec 3, 2020

It’s one thing for The Salvation Army Harrisburg to receive a donation that will benefit members of their community who are in need. It’s another thing for that donation to be pure gold.

The Salvation Army Harrisburg kicked off this crucial Red Kettle fundraising season by receiving one troy ounce of solid gold, which was dumped right into the kettle standing outside Karns Foods, a family-owned grocer located on Allentown Boulevard and long-timer supporter of The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign. One troy ounce translates to approximately $1,700.

“It gives us sort of a psychological boost,” said Kathy Anderson-Martin, Director of Resource Development for The Salvation Army Harrisburg Capital City Region. “Someone could write a $1,700 check, which we absolutely need and would appreciate, but the gold is just kind of cool. It’s different. It’s fun and unexpected.”

The anonymous donation couldn’t be timelier. It comes during The Salvation Army’s most critical Red Kettle Fundraising season yet. Due to the pandemic, Red Kettle donations this year from retail foot traffic have decreased 46% across The Salvation Army’s Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware Division, compared to this time last year. Downtowns have fewer people walking around, and people are carrying less cash and coins and resorting to online shopping.

On top of that, many stores have decided not to host kettles this year, and fewer people have volunteered to man them.

“This season is extremely challenging because we probably have about half the kettle locations,” said Anderson-Martin. “And half of those we have are not even going out each day because we don’t have people to staff them, for a variety of reasons.”

Yet, demand for services from The Salvation Army is soaring due to the economic impact of the pandemic. So, donations like the gold nugget will go a long way in helping those in need in the Harrisburg area. Donations to The Salvation Army support multiple needs through food distribution, employment assistance, youth programs and gifts under the tree for disadvantaged children, which falls in line with The Salvation Army’s “Rescue Christmas” campaign.

Though unique, this wouldn’t be the first time The Salvation Army Harrisburg has received a quirky donation. In fact, over the last ten years, the local Army has received quite the mix. One year, the Army received a wedding band with an accompanying note that read, “I hope this brings you more luck than it does me.”

A few years ago, Anderson-Martin recalled, the Army received a dental partial that contained gold fillings.

“We sold the gold out of those teeth for $170,” she said. “I remember it very clearly, because I don’t think it can get any odder than that.”

Rare happenstances like these result in lasting, meaningful relationships, particularly for The Salvation Army Harrisburg. The local Salvation Army, for example, takes gold and other similar donations to Mountz Jewelers, which then returns the full market value at no cost. The jeweler also sponsors the local Salvation Army’s various events year-round, in addition to providing plentiful in-kind contributions.

The Salvation Army of Harrisburg recognizes the importance of giving back, calling on the community to help the Army support Mountz Jewelers and other local businesses. In a recent e-newsletter, Anderson-Martin wrote, “Small, local businesses, like Mountz and many others, are the heartbeat of our communities. Support them. They need us.”

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