Lufkin red kettles see more than money

By Holley Nees - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – They're designed with a unique slot and a padlock so nothing can get out, but it turns out there's a lot that makes it into the Salvation Army Red Kettles.

From jewelry to buttons, there's no shortage of odd items that end up in the kettles.

Bell ringers shake the bell to raise money, but it turns out they collect more than bills and spare change.

"I have seen toothpicks, buttons, keys, and straws, just a little bit of everything and one year a lady put a house key inside of it and I had to call the Captain to come get the key out," said Salvation Army Bell Ringer Tommy Ray Arnett.

Arnett has been ringing the bell off and on for 17 years.

"They'll be in kind of a hurry trying to get in and out of the store and putting money in," said Arnett.

Captain John Branscum has been heading up the Red Kettle Campaign for 12 years and he's seen it all.

"You never know what you're going to find in the kettle, car wash tokens, Chuck E. Cheese tokens, occasionally we may find a man's wedding band," said Lufkin Salvation Army Captain John Branscum. "Maybe he had it in his pocket and he dropped a handful of change in and the wedding band went in as well. I have also found jewelry, watches and things of that nature, so it's always interesting."

However, he said the strange objects may not always be a mistake.

"Occasionally, yes, I do believe jewelry is put there on purpose, especially like a necklace or something that would have to intentionally go into the kettle," said Branscum.

Branscum said every morning the money is counted and if they find jewelry in the red kettle, they'll hold onto it for a little while to see if anyone claims it.

"Anything that we can trade in or use to help other people, then we gladly accept it," explained Branscum.

When the Lufkin Sam's Club kettle is the most successful location in Angelina County, they said the oddities at least mean people are making an effort to reach the kettle.

"It'll be alright if we get a couple buttons, we'll take a couple buttons," said Arnett. "It let's you know that they're really giving, they're really stopping by and trying."

If you've lost jewelry by accident in a kettle, contact the Salvation Army. They'll hold onto it for about 30 days.

By the way, the organization is still about $40,000 shy of their $80,000 goal in Angelina County, so you have 10 days left to drop money into a kettle.

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