Salvation Army gold coins

Capt. Kerry Bartsch, of the Salvation Army of Michigan City, holds the two gold coins found Wednesday in the red kettles used to collect donations for the organization.


MICHIGAN CITY — More Salvation Army kettles in Northwest Indiana have struck gold.

This time it happened in Michigan City.

Two gold coins worth more than $900 combined were found Wednesday night in kettles at Walmart and Big R.

This came four days after a gold coin was found in a kettle in Highland outside the Strack & Van Til store on Cline Avenue.

Capt. Johnny Bartsch, with the Salvation Army in Michigan City, said each coin was wrapped in a small piece of paper containing different handwritten messages related to Christmas.

"Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings,’’ from the classic holiday movie, "It’s a Wonderful Life," and, "What if Christmas doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas means a little bit more?’’ from, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," were inscribed.

Who deposited the gold coins is unknown, but the handwriting appears to be from the same person.

Bell ringers had no idea the coins were there until the kettles were emptied.

"We were able to look at those and say, oh my goodness these are really gold,’’ Bartsch said.

One coin contains a half-ounce of gold while the other is made from a quarter-ounce of the precious metal.

The coins helped move this year’s kettle drive total of nearly $70,000 closer to the $100,000 goal.

"This definitely made for an exciting Christmas surprise for us,’’ Bartsch said.

Bartsch said a gold tooth was dropped into one of the Michigan City kettles last year.

In 2014, a set of gold teeth rolled out of a kettle outside Walmart in LaPorte.

Capt. Justin Windell came to the Salvation Army in LaPorte several months later but has heard enough stories about it to consider it something he craves to experience himself.

"It almost has turned into a white whale for me. That’s just something I’ve never seen before. I’ve only heard about it,’’ Windell said.

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News Editor/Lake County Editor