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Different ring this year for Salvation Army donations

By Chris Dignam, CNN
updated 9:53 PM EST, Fri December 23, 2011
Wedding bands have turned up in red kettles in Florida, North Carolina, Kansas and Washington state.
Wedding bands have turned up in red kettles in Florida, North Carolina, Kansas and Washington state.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "Wedding rings seem to be the token item this year," a Salvation Army worker says
  • Maybe "they just wanted something positive" to come out of a marriage, an official says
  • The rings will go toward helping people in the local communities

New York (CNN) -- Salvation Army bell-ringers are a familiar ornament outside local retailers during the holiday season, but over the past month it hasn't been the rings from their bells that are catching people's ears.

"Wedding rings seem to be the token item this year for donations," said Haven Sink, director of public relations for the Salvation Army in Wake County, North Carolina.

A wave of wedding ring donations has hit the Salvation Army's Red Kettle campaign this year, with seven separate instances of ring donations reported over the past month, according to the organization.

"It's very curious," said Jennifer Byrd, national public relations director for the Salvation Army. "Maybe some of these rings came from marriages that didn't work out and they just wanted to do something positive with them?"

On Friday, a diamond ring was donated at a Goffstown, New Hampshire, kettle, one of three rings generously deposited by the same donor.

"I was overwhelmed," said Salvation Army organizer Debbie Urella, upon finding a third ring in a red bucket. "I know who donated the rings. We've helped her in the past and she wanted to repay us."

The donor chose to remain anonymous.

Urella plans to have the rings appraised after Christmas.

The phenomenon has hit other parts of the country as well. Wedding bands have turned up at the bottom of red kettles in two cities in Florida, in Raleigh, North Carolina, in Shawnee, Kansas, and in Spokane, Washington, where a diamond ring worth $5,000 was wrapped in a dollar bill.

"I think people know that when they give something to the Salvation Army they trust the organization will do the most good with it," Byrd said. "Whether it's a diamond ring or otherwise, they know it will help people in their local community."

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