The Salvation Army this holiday season received the first gold coin donation in five years and will auction the Canadian currency online beginning next week.
The $50 Canadian gold piece - an ounce of gold in weight with a stamp of a maple leaf on one side - was deposited Christmas Eve in the red kettle outside Schnuck's grocery store off University Street.
"Last time we got a gold coin, it was a krugerrand," said Rich Draeger of the Salvation Army Heartland division, who also noted that this coin was the first in his 11 years with the organization that was not a krugerrand.
"The bell ringer didn't even know," Draeger said.
The donation capped a successful red kettle campaign for the year, though the overall Tree of Lights campaign continues through February. As of Jan. 4, the campaign had raised just more than $1.12 million, or 83 percent of the $1.35 million goal.
"Kettles have done very well," Draeger said. "They finished ahead of where they were last year."
And that total will get a bit of a boost from the gold coin.
The Heartland division of the Salvation Army will initiate a 10-day online auction of the gold piece Monday.
"It's a one-ounce gold coin, so we're going to start the bidding at the amount of an ounce of gold," Draeger said.
A picture of the coin will be posted on the Web site for the Heartland division Saturday. That site can be accessed at www.usc.salvationarmy.org/heartland.
Bidding will begin at 9 a.m. Monday and run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each weekday until Jan. 20. Bids will not be accepted on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday Jan. 18.
Draeger said the current bid for the coin will be updated every hour. Bids can be called in to 655-1341.
By MATT BUEDEL (firstname.lastname@example.org)