Gold In The Kettle

Tuesday, December 6, 2011 - 10:21am

Salvation Army bell ringer receives five gold coins in one day.

It didn't happen once, or twice, or three times.

A Frederick, Maryland coin dealer made history by becoming the first person to donate five gold coins in one day to the Salvation Army.

"I don't know of anywhere else this has happened in the country where we got five gold coins in the same day. It's the first time in Frederick we received five in the same day," said Major Raymond Pruitt, with the Salvation Army of Frederick.

"I guess a secret Santa Claus would be the best way to describe it," said Matt Lerner, owner of the Frederick Coin Exchange.

Lerner donated five 1-ounce gold Krugerrands from South Africa.

Each of them is worth almost $2,000.

Lerner put a note around each coin.

It showed the value of each coin and where it was from.

He then wrapped both in a thin plastic bag so they would fit in the kettle without being noticed.

The Salvation Army took the coins back to the Frederick Coin Exchange and turned them in for a $9,000 check.

"We have a lot of need this year, a lot of people in the community who need our assistance, and this $9,000 will go a long way in meeting that need," Pruitt said.

"I've grown up in Frederick, so I think it's really important, especially for me, to give back to the community and any business for that matter," Lerner said. "Over the past year, I think the Salvation Army has seen about a 10 percent increase in their need for donations and services."

Giving back in this way is something Lerner has dreamt about ever since he was five years old.

"You'd always hear those stories all over the country of people dropping in gold coins," Lerner said. "Certainly as a five year old or even as a 15 year old I never had the money to necessarily donate to the Salvation Army."

However, now he's donating in a big way.

The young businessman, who's only 25 years old, is creating history as the first person to donate five gold coins in one day and become the secret Santa to a whole community.

Lerner says as long as business continues to boom at his store he'll make another large donation to the Salvation Army next year.

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