Widow's gift in Salvation Army kettle more than a 'mite' for needy kids

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez, |
Two widows honored their late husbands one by donating her wedding rings, and the other intentionally overpaying to redeem them -- all for the benefit of needy children. Photo: SALVATION ARMY/Michael Harper

BOSTON, Mass. (Christian Examiner) -- Since 1997, the notable kick-off donation for the Salvation Army's Red Kettle Campaign has been given annually by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. This year another memorable drop in the signature red kettles happened anonymously, spurred others to give generously and formed a special bond between complete strangers.

On Dec. 10, a woman put her wedding band and diamond engagement ring into a donation kettle at the major Boston transportation hub of North Station. The gift came wrapped in a note asking that the rings from her generous late husband be sold to help children. The letter also stated her hope that the special items, valued at $1,850, might bring in "10 times" their worth.

"I've dropped my wedding ring in your Red Kettle knowing that the money from its sale will buy toys for needy children," the note read. "I'm hoping there's someone out there who made lots of money this year and will buy the ring for 10 times its worth. After all, there's no price on love or the sentimental value of this ring. But money will help the kids."

Less than a week later another anonymous widow made sure the donor's wish came true -- and more. She offered $21,000 to purchase the wedding set.

Boston's local CBS affiliate WBZ reported that while multiple individuals wanted to purchase the rings, the offer the organization ultimately accepted was made by a former volunteer bell-ringer who also wanted to honor her late husband.

"I miss him dearly, but my husband would be happy that I am doing this," she told the Salvation Army. "I want to be involved in this because it's about the spirit of Christmas, the spirit of giving. My wish is that the rings can be returned to this woman who gave them up in memory of her husband for the sake of children at Christmas."

Massachusetts Salvation Army Major David Davis said the organization's aim has been to fulfill the request of both donors.

"One expression of love has inspired another grand gesture to help those in need during the holiday season," he said "Because of these two amazing individuals, our Salvation Army officers, staff and individuals will be able to extend our outreach to the many families and children in need. We are dedicated to fulfilling the sentiment behind these two heartfelt donations."

Another spokesman for the Salvation Army noted that the organization wished to set up a quiet meeting between the two widows.

The tradition of the Salvation Army's red kettles began in 1891 when Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee first used the buckets to collect money to feed San Francisco's needy and hungry at Christmas. Today, the kettles can be found all over the world including countries like Japan and Korea.