Anonymous Donor Drops Rings in Salvation Army Red Kettle

PHOTO: Salvation Army officials say that a diamond engagement ring and wedding band were dropped into their donation kettle in Billerica, Mass. on Dec. 7, 2015.PlayWCVB
WATCH Salvation Army Feeling Holiday Joy With Engagement Ring Donation

A diamond engagement ring and wedding band were donated anonymously to the Salvation Army of Greater Lowell in Massachusetts last week.

The white gold jewelry set was discovered in a Salvation Army Red Kettle outside of the Market Basket grocery store in Billerica by chapter captain David Childs on Cyber Monday. Drew Forster, director of communications for the Massachusetts Division, told ABC News that the rings have been soldered together and feature a diamond accent on each side. Boston appraiser, Roger Durkin, valued the attached rings at $3,500, Childs said. The chapter captain told ABC News, finding the rings was "pretty incredible."

"I opened up the bucket and discovered the rings and just paused," Childs said. "I told everyone and we got very excited."

Childs said the unknown donor's actions were "heartwarming" and will have a profound impact on those who require assistance.

"Especially in the Greater Lowell area, there's a great need," Childs said. "There's been a lot more people coming throughout the year to our food pantry and to our affordable housing."

19.1 percent of people live in poverty in Lowell according to the 2014 U.S. Census compared to the nationwide average of 14.8.

The Salvation Army plans to auction the rings off during its annual Lowell Corps' Radiothon scheduled to broadcast on 980 WCAP-AM on Saturday, Dec. 12. Money from the rings "will help the Salvation Army in its mission to provide vital programming and services for thousands of children, families and seniors in the Lowell region," a press release obtained by ABC News said.

These services include food, toys and "funding for food pantries, soup kitchens, social services and education programs throughout the year," the release added.

"We’re excited and incredibly grateful to the individual who made such a generous and kind donation," Major David B. Davis, divisional commander of the Massachusetts Salvation Army said in the release. "Our Red Kettles represent the spirit of giving, and this incredible gift will ensure that local children will have a brighter Christmas and that families and seniors will get the resources they need all year round."

Childs said the Lowell branch set a goal to raise $160,000 this year. They currently have more than $60,000 in donations. Meanwhile, Forster said the statewide chapter is hoping to raise $3.4 million through the Red Kettle campaign. Forster said funds raised by the rings will go a long way.

"For us at the Salvation Army, what's remarkable about these gifts is not the money behind it but the personal significance and that they're willing to part with it to help others," Forster said.

However, this is not the first time the Massachusetts area received such a sparkling donation. An anonymous widow dropped her wedding band and engagement ring in a Red Kettle outside of the North Station transportation terminal in Boston last December in memory of her late husband, according to the Salvation Army. When another unnamed donor and former bell ringer gave the organization $21,000 for the rings, the widow was reunited with her gems soon after. But, the widow's generosity sparked a "spree of jewelry donations across the region."

"In a matter of weeks, Salvation Army officials received a diamond-encrusted cross in Brookline, wedding rings in Weymouth, Fitchburg and Swampscott, and a diamond pendant in Lynn," according to the release.

The nonprofit received 15 jewelry donations in December 2014 raising more than $30,000 combined for the campaign. Forster said the Salvation Army is optimistic about the trend beginning again this season.

"We are hopeful that people will step up and not just in Massachusetts but across the country," Forster said. "If they see a Red Kettle, they will donate."

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