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$96,002 and counting: Big donor dropping many wads of $100 bills in Salvation Army kettles in Minnesota

A woman makes a donation in the Salvation Army kettle. (file photo / News Tribune)

MINNEAPOLIS — Fat wads of $100 bills are showing up yet again in Salvation Army red kettles in the Twin Cities, and officials with the charity said Wednesday they remain stumped about who might be behind the yearly anonymous donations that are nearing the $100,000 overall total since they began in 2011.

This is the sixth season of the secret drops being made, coming in increments of $1,000 or more, inspiring the Salvation Army to dub the generous soul “St. Grand.”

There have been six such grand gestures this month, with two of $1,200 each coming Tuesday in Roseville; one at the Cub Foods on Larpenteur, and the other at the Lunds & Byerlys on W. County Road C in Roseville.

The other four: Dec. 5, $12,000, location not determined; Dec. 7, $1,200, at the Lunds & Byerlys in Roseville; Dec. 8, $1,000, Cub Foods, Xerxes Avenue in Edina; and Dec. 9, $1,200, Cub Foods, Lexington Avenue in Arden Hills.

Since 2011 and including this season, St. Grand donations have totaled $96,002, said Salvation Army spokeswoman Julie Borgen. “Last year, we had two of the bundles wrapped in $1 bills,” she said, explaining the extra 2 bucks.

“We assume it’s the same donor, since the method is always the same — a roll of crisp $100 bills bundled together and dropped in a kettle.”

Borgen said the charity is particularly grateful for St. Grand’s reappearance, since “our kettle donations are behind where we were at this time last year.”

The charity noted earlier this week that a slump in the number of volunteer bell ringers means it has collected $200,000 less in its red kettles this holiday season, compared to this time last year.

Now the nonprofit, calling the situation dire, is trying to recruit new bell ringers in hopes of meeting or exceeding the $3 million threshold that helps the charity feed those in need and provide temporary shelter.

“We have about 14,000 volunteer bell ringers so far this year, compared to just over 16,000 at this time last year,” Borgen said. “We don’t put kettles out without a ringer.”

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