CEDAR LAKE | One 1-ounce 1993 fine gold $50 coin, valued at approximately $1,300, was dropped into a Salvation Army Red Kettle on Friday, Dec. 20, at a Strack and Van Til in Cedar Lake (9605 Lincoln Plaza). Gold coins found in Salvation Army Red Kettles have become a much-anticipated holiday tradition of giving in Chicagoland and northwest Indiana.
In the continuing economic downturn, more and more people are turning to The Salvation Army for help. The Salvation Army in Munster, which includes Cedar Lake, has seen a marked increase in the number of families, individuals and seniors requesting emergency aid for food, largely due to decreases in federal assistance benefits. Food assistance is one of the primary uses for Red Kettle donations, along with emergency rent and utility assistance, after-school programs for youth and drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs.
Each holiday season, The Salvation Army in Lake County serves more than 11,000 people, provides more than 2,500 food baskets, 8,000 toys and more than 4,000 articles of clothing.
"Donations to red kettles in Lake County Indiana are down by 30 percent compared to this time last year, so a donation as significant as this gold coin really does go a long way toward helping us meet our goal and we're so grateful to our anonymous Secret Santa," said Lt. Betsy Clark of The Salvation Army Hammond-Munster Corps. "This year we had one less week between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so we're trying our best to make up for lost time so that we don't have to make any cuts to the critical social services we provide to people in need all year long."
The philanthropic tradition of dropping gold coins into Salvation Army kettles actually began right here and 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 familiar Red Kettles will disappear from the streets on December 24, with a few remaining until January 4. However, the Red Kettle campaign will continue through January 31, 2014. The iconic red kettles and its bell ringers are the heart and soul of the Christmas season and are an integral part of The Salvation Army's Red Kettle Campaign. The Salvation Army receives nearly 70 percent of its yearly donations during the campaign. The funds are used not only to support Christmas programs and services, but to help The Salvation Army serve neighbors in need throughout the entire year. Funds raised will stay in the Lake County community.
For those wishing to donate at their computers, virtual Red Kettles are available on-line. Donors can host a virtual Red Kettle, or sponsor a Red Kettle team, by going to The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division web site at www.salarmychicago.org. Visitors to the site can register individually, as a group, or a business by completing a simple registration form.
To make a donation by mail, please send to: The Salvation Army, 8225 Columbia Ave, Munster, IN 46321, call 219-838-0380 or visit www.salarmyhammond,org