CONWAY — Another Salvation Army kettle in Conway struck gold this month.
A South African Krugerrand was discovered, then two 24-karat triangular gold bouillons.
At press time, another anonymous phone call with a blocked number had been placed to The Salvation Army office in Conway, and employees were as excited as kids at Christmas.
“People are asking us if we live at the end of the rainbow,” said Capt. David Robinson, a Conway corps officer.
A 22-karat gold alloy and copper Krugerrand was found first, in a volunteer’s kettle at the Walmart Supercenter on U.S. 65.
“We got a phone call the next day after the Krugerrand. He said, ‘I want to make sure you found the gold coin,’” and the man said he didn’t want anyone to know who he was.
Then, Robinson said, a staff member got another strange call Dec. 12.
The person said, “I just dropped something in the kettle at J.C. Penney; you might want to go check it out,” Robinson said.
The person’s voice was disguised, slowed down, “like they were using some sort of device,” he said. No phone number showed up on the caller ID.
It was a triangular, 1-ounce gold bouillon stamped with NTR Metals, the dealer.
NTR Metals has a location in North Little Rock.
“He called back, had his voice disguised and said, ‘I’m going to drop another one. I’ll let you know when and where,’” Robinson said. That was a Tuesday.
“I was excited. Then it didn’t happen Tuesday; it didn’t happen Wednesday. Then … we found it Friday,” Robinson said.
A second 1-ounce gold bouillon was dropped into a kettle at Walmart on U.S. 65, where the Krugerrand was found.
“He had it wrapped in a $100 bill. He had a note attached apologizing for not doing it Tuesday, but he had been sick. It was like, wow,” Robinson said.
The Krugerrand and gold bouillons were put up for bid. The South African coin brought $2,501.
The two gold bouillons were sold for a total of $2,800.
It helps at a time when donations are down and needs are up, he said.
Robinson said earlier in December that donations were down about $19,000.
Last week, he said donations might be down about $13,000, but he has tried to keep expenses down this year. Not enough volunteers can be recruited as bell ringers, and many are paid.
“I’m trying to make sure I’m as close to the net as last year; it won’t feel so bad,” Robinson said. “We’ve really tried to cut it back this year. I didn’t hire a kettle coordinator; I didn’t hire extra drivers. I hired just what I needed, and the ones I’ve hired have done an excellent, excellent job.”
This is the first Christmas season for him and his wife, Joanna, to be corps officers in Conway.
What’s going on with the anonymous donations?
“I don’t know, but I like it,” Robinson said, laughing.
The money will go to help the needy in Faulkner, Perry, Van Buren and Cleburne counties with food baskets, utilities and other needs, as well as to buy toys for leftover angels from the Angel Tree project, he said.
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.