(STMW) — A secretive, generous Santa dropped four gold coins worth $1,300 each into a Salvation Army kettle on Wednesday outside a northwest suburban Wal-Mart.

The $50 coins dropped in a kettle in Lake Zurich weighed an ounce of gold each, a Salvation Army spokesman told Pioneer Press.

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“This time of year, we are reminded of the generosity of our donors, and the needs of our clients,” Capt. David Martinez of The Salvation Army Des Plaines Corps said.

“Gold coins are important, not only because of the direct benefit that the additional funds provide to the people that we serve, but also because it provides both our bell ringers and our community with more optimism for the year to come.”

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According to the Salvation Army, the philanthropic tradition of dropping gold coins into Salvation Army kettles dates back more than 25 years, first in nearby McHenry County. The Salvation Army has since received more than 400 gold coins from anonymous donors.

The Des Plaines Corps, which includes Lake Zurich, has reported a significant increase in the number of families, individuals and seniors requesting emergency help with rent and utilities this year, one of the primary uses for kettle donations.

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The Salvation Army’s Metropolitan Division serves more than 137,000 people during the holiday season, and delivers more than 30,000 food baskets, 56,000 articles of clothing and more than 153,000 toys.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)