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Holiday mystery: $1,000 slipped in WV kettle

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MORGANTOWN (AP) — There's a long-running mystery in Morgantown. But it's not a whodunit. It's a who gave it.

Every year since at least 1978, a mystery donor has slipped a $1,000 bill into a Salvation Army kettle. This year, a $1,000 bill, wrapped in a $1 bill, appeared Saturday in a kettle at a Kroger store manned by volunteer Mark Randalls, who has been ringing bells for the Salvation Army for 12 years.

"No idea at all," Randalls told The Dominion Post (http://bit.ly/r8Ei4o). "That's what makes it so cool."

Salvation Army Lt. David Costellow said he received an anonymous phone call a couple days ago telling him where to find the money.

"I know I've never held one before," he said, as he cradled the 1928 series bill in his hands. "This is such a generous act."

Costellow said the holiday tradition was one of the first things he heard about after he moved to Morgantown from a Salvation Army posting in Kentucky last summer.

"It truly is unique. I haven't encountered this anywhere else I've been," he said.

He said the mystery donation gives a boost to the Salvation Army's kettle drive fundraiser, which is set to end Monday afternoon. Donations are lagging behind the $100,000 goal but Costellow believes they will increase as Christmas Eve nears.

"People here are generous," he said.

Someone else dropped 10 $100 bills, joined together with a paperclip, in another kettle at the Kroger store's other entrance.

"We'll take that," Costellow said, "with thanks and appreciation."

The Salvation Army in Morgantown helps about 200 families for Christmas each year.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.