Back in December of 2014, an anonymous woman honored her late husband’s joy of Christmastime gift giving by dropping her engagement ring and wedding band into a Salvation Army Red Kettle outside of Boston’s North Station. Accompanying the three-stone engagement ring and plain gold wedding band was a type-written note.
“I’ve dropped my wedding ring in your Red Kettle knowing that the money from its sale will buy toys for needy children,” she wrote. “In all seasons, my husband was a giver. I especially remember his joy in giving at Christmastime, especially to those in need. To honor his memory, I donate this ring.”
That uplifting story, which earned national headlines, has been spawning copycat acts of generosity ever since.
This past Thursday, at The Salvation Army in Waltham, about 12 miles west of Boston, Lt. Nicole Fullop was inspecting the contents of a Red Kettle at the local Market Basket grocery store when she encountered a curious plastic bag. Inside the bag, wrapped in a dollar bill, was a wedding band and engagement ring, along with a type-written note.
“This ring is being given in love for a second time,” wrote the anonymous donor. “Like the first time, I hope that this ring will bring joy and make a difference.”
According to The Salvation Army, the rings are valued at an estimated $1,500. Once sold, the proceeds will be put directly toward helping families and others in need in the Waltham area this holiday season.
“We are honored and humbled that someone would care enough to give something this precious to The Salvation Army to help others,” said Lt. Fullop. “Donors dropping valuable jewelry and coins with notes into kettles has been happening for years and is often a reminder of how the kettle is a sign of hope.”
In an interview with WBZ News in Boston, Fullop delivered a message to the anonymous donor: "We thank you and we love you. Merry Christmas."
This year, The Salvation Army hopes to raise $2.5 million in Massachusetts through its iconic red kettle campaign. In 2022, the national campaign generated more than $102 million.
Every year, The Salvation Army serves more than 24 million people across America. They provide more than 55 million meals for the hungry, more than 10 million nights of shelter for the homeless, and countless Christmas gifts for children who may otherwise go without.
The Salvation Army Red Kettle Program can track its origins to 1891, when Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee struggled with the reality that so many poor individuals in San Francisco were going hungry. During the holiday season, he resolved to provide a free Christmas dinner for the destitute and poverty-stricken. His only hurdle was a tall one — funding the project.
According to The Salvation Army’s official website, McFee’s red kettle idea was inspired by his days as a sailor in Liverpool, England. There, he remembered an iron kettle called “Simpson’s Pot” into which passers-by tossed a coin or two to help the poor.
The next day, McFee placed a similar pot at the Oakland Ferry Landing at the foot of Market Street. Beside the pot, he placed a sign that read, “Keep the Pot Boiling.” He soon had the money to see that the needy people of the area were properly fed at Christmas.
Credits: Images courtesy of The Salvation Army.