A Minnesota couple shocked the local chapter of the Salvation Army over the weekend when they slipped a $500,000 check into one of the charity's famous red kettles.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that the couple, who wishes to remain anonymous, made the donation Saturday at a Cub Foods outlet in the Twin Cities suburb of Rosemount. The paper reported that local firefighters handling bell-ringing duties that day were oblivious to the size of the check, but the couple had tipped off the Salvation Army's major gifts manager, who picked up the kettle himself.
Salvation Army spokeswoman Julie Borgen confirmed that the couple's check had cleared Monday.
"We are simply stunned and honored to have received such a generous gift," said Maj. Jeff Strickler, the Salvation Army's commander in the Twin Cities. "This is a true blessing, and it could not come at a better time for the Salvation Army and the people we serve."
In a statement released through the charity, the couple said they hoped their donation would encourage others to give generously. They also noted that they were inspired by memories of their own money troubles and by one of their fathers, whom they said served in World War I and had fond memories of the Salvation Army's "donut girls", who provided coffee and baked goods to weary soldiers in the trenches.
"You get to a point in life where it's time to take care of others, the way you were taken care of," the donors said.
Borgen told the Star-Tribune the couple had previously made sizable donations, but nothing approaching the $500,000 mark.
The paper reported that the Twin Cities Salvation Army chapter hoped to raise $11.6 million during its Christmas campaign. The couple's donation had helped boost the take so far to $2.2 million.