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Gold coin again left in Salvation Army bucket at Naperville market

<p>A kettle on display as Salvation Army Elgin Corps celebrate the start of the holiday season at their Red Kettle Campaign Kick-Off Ceremony at Otto Engineering in Carpentersville. November 14, 2012. | John Konstantaras~For Sun-Times Media</p>

A kettle on display as Salvation Army Elgin Corps celebrate the start of the holiday season at their Red Kettle Campaign Kick-Off Ceremony at Otto Engineering in Carpentersville. November 14, 2012. | John Konstantaras~For Sun-Times Media

For the third consecutive year, a one-ounce gold South African Kruggerand has been discreetly dropped into a Salvation Army Red Kettle outside of Casey’s Foods in Naperville. The anonymous donation, valued at approximately $1,300, was made Friday at the market, just southwest of Washington Street and Gartner Road.

Gold coins found in Salvation Army Red Kettles have become a much-anticipated holiday tradition of giving in Chicago and surrounding suburbs, Salvation Army officials said. “We are so grateful for the generosity of our wonderful donors,” said Capt. Antonio Romero of The Salvation Army Aurora Corps, whose service area includes much of Naperville. “The money raised from these red kettles goes directly to help fund the programs and services right here in our communities, so this coin will go a long way toward helping our friends and neighbors in need.”

The Salvation Army is reporting that it has received more than $3.3 million in donations so far this season toward its Red Kettle Campaign, or 26 percent of its $13 million goal. Donations are down by about 8 percent overall compared to this time last year, largely due to the shorter holiday season.

A bright spot in the campaign is the rise of online red kettle donations, which have increased by about 270 percent, as more people turn to social media to sponsor their own online red kettles, Salvation Army officials said.

With Thanksgiving falling later in the month, leaving one less week between Thanksgiving and Christmas, The Salvation Army is asking the community to help it make up for lost time over the next three weeks.

The Salvation Army’s Metropolitan Division serves more than 137,000 people during the holiday season, and delivers more than 30,000 food baskets, 56,000 articles of clothing and more than 153,000 toys.

The philanthropic tradition of dropping gold coins into Salvation Army kettles dates back more than 25 years, when the first gold coin was deposited in McHenry County. Since then, the Salvation Army has received more than 400 gold coins of every type and description from anonymous donors.

The kettles will disappear from the streets on Dec. 24. However, the Red Kettle campaign will continue through Jan. 31.

For those wishing to donate at their computers, virtual Red Kettles are available online.

Donors can host a virtual Red Kettle, or sponsor a Red Kettle team, by going to The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division website at www.salarmychicago.org.

Visitors to the site can register individually, as a group, or a business by completing a registration form.

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