A mysterious donor is dropping generous donations again this year into the Twin Cities Salvation Army's red kettles, leaving $4,000 in the north metro last week.
The nonprofit dubs the anonymous donor "St. Grand" because the person always drops $1,000 in a kettle in crisp new $100 bills. This is the 11th year in a row the secretive philanthropist has donated to the Salvation Army.
"There are people out there who give from the heart and don't want any credit," said Dan Furry, spokesman for the Salvation Army Northern Division, which includes Minnesota and North Dakota. "And St. Grand is someone who does that."
Over the last decade's Christmas campaigns, St. Grand has donated $152,500 to the organization, which provides shelter, food and other services for Minnesotans in need.
This year's generosity comes at a time when the Salvation Army worries that giving will drop during the COVID-19 pandemic because fewer shoppers are going to the retail and grocery stores where the red kettles are stationed.
As a result, the Salvation Army has added new ways to give money over Venmo and PayPal. Last year, the organization added QR codes to the red kettles, which donors could scan with smartphones to get a link to the donation site.
Two years ago, the Salvation Army added bump pay options at the red kettles so people could "bump" or scan their smartphones to make a digital donation via Apple Pay or Google Pay — all in hopes of combating the trend of fewer people carrying cash or coins.
The Twin Cities Salvation Army wants to raise $12 million in its annual year-end campaign, up from $10 million last year. Of that $12 million, $2 million is projected to be donated through the 300 red kettles that are set up at across the Twin Cities through Christmas Eve.
The year-end campaign provides about two-thirds of the charity's annual revenue. So far, Furry said, donations are ahead of pre-pandemic giving in 2019 but behind last year's unprecedented surge in donations to Minnesota nonprofits.
"We're upbeat about being able to make our target," he said.
To donate or volunteer at a red kettle, go to SalvationArmyNorth.org.