Santa’s a great guy who is heading feverishly into the busiest night of his working year, but this time his kindness is being matched by one or more Christmas angels who are showing a propensity for dropping off large gifts into The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle in front of the Big Lots store.
To quote a popular adage, “Three’s a charm.”
On Thursday, The Salvation Army was charmed again — this time by a $300 gift (three slightly used $100 bills) — that also were deposited by an unknown donor into the Big Lots kettle.
The donation came in response to a challenge issued earlier this week by a good Samaritan identifying himself or herself only as “Santa’s Helper.” The first gift, announced in Tuesday’s edition of the Cleveland Daily Banner, was also $300.
A second gift, published in Thursday’s edition of the newspaper, totaled $1,000 — also contributed in crisp $100 bills. On the same day, the third contribution arrived to the same Red Kettle. Its accompanying note, written on plain paper apparently from a small notepad, read simply, “I have been blessed so I met your challenge. May we not forget the real reason for this season ... the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas.”
Sgt. Ruthie Forgey, the Cleveland Corps administrator of The Salvation Army, confirmed early this morning the third gift — apparently from a separate donor — was discovered by Red Kettle coordinators Thursday.
“This is the first time we’ve gotten large donations like this (in the Cleveland locations),” Forgey said. The Salvation Army in Chattanooga is typically graced with a major donation each year sometime around Thanksgiving, she added.
“In Cleveland, this is the first time we’ve had this kind of donation with a challenge,” Forgey explained.
Each of the first two donations was accompanied by notes explaining the contributions and issuing the ongoing challenge.
The message sent with the $1,000 gift, which came only one day following the initial challenge, urged others to follow suit with the intent of helping those most in need. It read, “Please use these $ to ensure that a family in this area has a better Christmas. I have been blessed and I wish to share with others. I know there are children who are wishing for some clothes or gifts. Maybe you can make their wishes come true with these $’s. Santa’s Helper.”
This year’s Red Kettle campaign closes at 5 p.m. today.
Potential donors who miss the deadline may still contribute to The Salvation Army by sending their gifts to The Salvation Army, 435 Inman St. West, Cleveland, TN 37311.” Donors may also contribute by texting to “Cleveland” and then 85944. Each text will be a $10 donation charged to the donor’s telephone bill. These text donations may be sent three times daily.