MERRILL - It only takes a couple seconds to drop in some spare change or a couple dollars into a Salvation Army Red Kettle during the holiday season. One person, in those couple seconds, managed to make a big impact on Merrill's Salvation Army with their donation.
"It was unbelievable," said Salvation Army bell ringer volunteer Denise Ziech.
Ziech had just heard the good news.
"When I found out about the donation I couldn't stop jittering inside, my heart couldn't stop racing and I wanted to hug everybody," said Ziech.
"We had a bit of a Christmas Magic donation come into the kettle, with a donation of a $15,000 check," said Merrill Kettle Coordinator Sharon Anderson.
On Friday, an anonymous donor slipped that check into the kettle at Dave's Country Market.
"I questioned really that amount, I have never heard of that amount being donated before," said Ziech.
"Very unusual for us to get a big check like that," said Anderson.
In fact, organizers say it may be the biggest kettle donation the Merrill Salvation Army has ever received.
"I think the biggest donation before yesterday was $500," said Anderson.
The donor did ask for one specific group to be recognized.
"The money that comes in from the bell ringing is distributed through St. Vincent De Paul here in Merrill," said Dennis McCarthy, another bell ringer volunteer.
The church uses the bell-ringing funds throughout the year.
"We deal with the homeless population, other emergencies with rent, with public service, so we kind of deal with the whole realm of people in need," said McCarthy.
McCarthy volunteers as a ringer through St. Vincent De Paul.
"We are so appreciative that somebody thought that much of helping the poor, showing kindness to others," said McCarthy.
The donor left a simple note with the check that read: "I pray that with the 'Grace' of 'God' you can double this by the end of the Salvation Army Bell ringing period."
The ringers know that not everyone can afford a large donation, but they hope that the donor's example will prompt people to give as much as they can.
Dennis McCarthy/Volunteer: "If you were going to give one dollar give two, you know, maybe give five. It all goes to a good cause and it goes 100 percent here to Merrill," said McCarthy.
"I just hope it opens up people to take a look at their finances and if they have any extra money, feel that you can give gladly and joyfully," said Ziech.
Organizers say they collected about $17,000 before that donation. The goal is to raise $39,000 before the ringing season is over.
People can send donations to the Merrill Salvation Army to the following address:
P.O. Box 614