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Fifth gold coin of season donated on Pine Island

By Staff | Dec 27, 2010

A record fifth gold coin was discovered by a Salvation Army volunteer earlier last week in a very unexpected location.
During the Red Kettle Cam-paign, a bell ringer at the Winn-Dixie on Pine Island, discovered that a 1980 South African Krugerrand was dropped in the collection kettle during her shift. Like the other gold coins that had been anonymously dropped in kettles at other locations throughout Lee County, the coin was wrapped in a note.
Four other coins have already been discovered in Lee County kettles this holiday season. They include a 1975, 76 and 78 South African Krugerrand as well as a $20 Liberty Eagle gold coin which was donated for the sixth year in a row. The Liberty Eagle was wrapped in a note that read, “In loving memory of Mimi.”
Three of the Krugerrands were wrapped in notes that quoted Bible verses. The Pine Island coin however, was accompanied by a note that said, “Happy Birthday Jesus.”
Major Tom Louden with the Salvation Army said of the donations, “We are extremely grateful and truly amazed by the generosity of the community this year.”
Recovering the gold coin were island residents, Kathy and Jerry Flesher.
“This year, my husband was working at Publix and I was ringing bells at Winn-Dixie. At the end of the day, we bring the kettles home to count the money. When I saw the coin wrapped in the note, I was flabbergasted. All I could say was we got one and I began to bawl,” said Kathy Flesher.
“We had read about the coins in the paper, but never imagined we would get one. I knew right away we had something special because when I picked it up I felt the weight. It is just unimaginable how it feels to hold something like that in your hand knowing its value.”
As for the note attached, Flesher felt it was meant to send a special message to everyone.
“I took the note to mean that this money was meant to go to the greater good and a special gift to help others,” Flesher said. “It is just phenomenal how giving the people of Pine Island truly are. Not only are they so generous during this special season of giving, they are incredibly generous throughout the year. That is why I could never imagine myself living anywhere else.”
The estimated value of the gold coin donated at Winn-Dixie is between $1,400 and $1,600 and is the first of its kind to be dropped at the Pine Island location.
According to Merrilu Bennet, Resource and Media Specialist with the Salvation Army, just three days prior to the end of the Red Kettle Campaign, the funds raised amounted to $375,000 of the $550,000 goal for the year.