Gold Coin Donations Make the Holiday Bright for The Salvation Army

Anonymous donations of valuable gold coins — including one recovered from a 300-year-old shipwreck — made the 2016 holiday season bright for Salvation Army chapters from Florida to Oregon.


The Salvation Army’s bell ringing season starts each November and runs through Christmas Eve. Most of the donations come in the form of pocket change and paper money, but this year a bunch of benefactors generously dropped gold coins into the iconic red kettles.


In Sebastian, Fla., an anonymous donor decided to hand his coin donation to veteran bell ringer Jim Bessy. The 300-year-old gold escudo, which is said to be worth several thousand dollars, had been recovered from the wrecks of the Spanish treasure ships known as the 1715 Plate Fleet. The donor didn’t want to drop the gold escudo into the kettle because he feared it would get mixed in with the other loose coins.


The coin, which was recovered off the Florida coast and encased in plastic with the label “1715 Fleet 1 Escudo,” will benefit the operations of the Salvation Army chapter in Vero Beach.

“This coin will help bring light on so many stories of families in need right here in Indian River County,” Salvation Army Lt. Jay Needham told USA Today. “With this great contribution and so many more from around this generous community, we are able to help people that are in need during the Christmas season and into the New Year.”

In past years, we’ve written about anonymous benefactors dropping diamond and gold jewelry into the Salvation Army kettles during the Christmas season. This year, the most surprising donations were in the form of 1-ounce gold coins worth about $1,200 apiece. Here’s the rundown, as compiled by USA Today

• In Wisconsin, exactly 80 2016 American Eagle 1-ounce gold coins were dropped into Salvation Army kettles in locations near Manitowoc County and Green Bay. One-ounce South African gold Krugerrands were also scooped from red kettles in Mukwonago and De Pere.

• In Colorado, a pair of 1-ounce South African gold Krugerrands were found in red kettles in Fort Collins. Salvation Army Capt. Isaias Braga told USA Today that in years past an anonymous gold coin donor always returned to The Salvation Army to buy back the item at $1,000 more than its value.

• In Kentucky, Salvation Army officials discovered a 1-ounce South African gold Krugerrand in a red kettle at a Louisville Walmart.

• In Montana, a new Salvation Army lieutenant found a 1-ounce American Buffalo gold coin while sorting red kettle donations in Bigfork.

• In Oregon, an anonymous donor placed an Austrian 100-corona gold coin into a kettle in Salem. The 1915 coin is worth about $1,100.

The Salvation Army red kettle program can track its origins to 1891, when Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee was distraught because 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. He only had one major hurdle to overcome — 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 were properly fed at Christmas.

Credits: Images via Facebook/1715 Fleet – Queens Jewels, LLC; Red kettle via Facebook/SalvationArmyUSA.

Town of Nördlingen, Germany, Sits in a Massive Crater Filled With 72,000 Tons of Diamonds

The picturesque Bavarian town of Nördlingen, Germany, is situated in a crater filled with 72,000 tons of diamonds, according to a story posted Friday by

Although the town’s origins date back to 898 A.D., it wasn’t until 50 years ago that scientists realized that the 9-mile-wide depression, known as the Ries crater, was formed by the impact of an asteroid. The intense pressure resulting from the asteroid crashing into the Earth caused the graphite-bearing rock in the region to transform into diamonds.


“We assume that the asteroid was a stony one with a weight of [approximately] three billion tons,” Gisela Pösges, a geologist and deputy director of the Ries Crater Museum in Nördlingen told “[We think that] the asteroid was a similar size to the town of Nördlingen, about one kilometer (less than three-quarters of a mile) across.”


The diamonds formed from the asteroid impact will never find their way to the center of an engagement ring. The largest ones are 0.3mm in size (barely 1/100th of an inch). A 1mm diamond, by comparison, weighs 0.005 carats.


The high-pressure impact didn’t only create diamonds, but also a material called suevite, which is a rock embedded with angular fragments of glass, crystal and diamonds.

Interestingly, when medieval residents set out to build the majestic St.-Georgs-Kirche church in the center of town, they used local materials to create the structure, including chunks of suevite. In fact, most of the town’s structures were constructed with diamond-infused suevite.

“Our church, St. Georgs, is made of suevite [and contains] about 5,000 carats of diamonds,” Pösges told “But they’re so tiny… that they have no economic value, only scientific value. You can observe the diamonds only with a microscope.”

Scientists estimate that the asteroid impact on Nördlingen generated 60 gigapascals of pressure. To turn carbon into diamonds, it takes between 24 and 136 gigapascal of pressure.

Guided tours of the diamond town of Nördlingen are regularly offered by the Ries Crater Museum, where suevite samples are on display.

Credits: Nördlingen photo via; Map by; Relief map by Batholith (Wikimedia Commons) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons; Suevite by H. Raab (User: Vesta) (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.0 at], via Wikimedia Commons.

Music Friday: Straight No Chaser’s Viral ‘12 Days of Christmas’ Captures the Spirit of the Season

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you the coolest songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. With Christmas only two days away, we bring you one of YouTube’s most popular Christmas song videos of all time — Straight No Chaser’s witty and masterfully arranged rendition of “The 12 Days of Christmas.” To date, the original version of SNC’s “12 Days” has been viewed more than 20 million times.


As everyone knows, the jewelry reference in this holiday favorite comes on the fifth day of Christmas when “my true love gave to me, five golden rings.”

The a cappella group’s “12 Days” is famous for its clever infusions of other songs, such as “I Have a Little Dreidel” and Toto’s “Africa.” SNC’s version of the popular Christmas song was inspired by a 1968 comic arrangement of the song by Richard C. Gregory, a faculty member of The Williston Northampton School in western Massachusetts.

Originated on the campus of Indiana University in 1996, Straight No Chaser is truly a grassroots, internet-inspired phenomenon. The 10-man group owes its worldwide fame to a video of its 1998 performance that was first posted to YouTube eight years later. That video went viral and caught the attention of Atlantic Records CEO Craig Kallman, who signed the group to a five-album deal in 2008.

Straight No Chaser is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary and supporting its I’ll Have Another… Christmas Album with live shows in Indianapolis, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Honolulu and Maui. The album, which was released in October, sits at #12 on the U.S. Billboard Holiday Albums chart, having peaked at #4.

Check out the video of Straight No Chaser’s live performance of “The 12 Days of Christmas.” It is guaranteed to brighten your holidays and bring a smile to your face. Enjoy!

Credit: Promotional photo via