In a holiday season tradition that's getting better with age, bundles of crisp $100 bills are being dropped anonymously in Salvation Army kettles in the Twin Cities.

The charity reports that since the day after Thanksgiving, six donations of $1,500 each have been slipped into those shiny red containers in 2019 at Cub Foods stores in Arden Hills and Roseville.

Salvation Army officials believe there is one person — identity unknown — who has been gathering up Benjamins and putting them in bell ringers' kettles every year since 2011.

And the charity has given this person a proper nickname.

"Thank you, St. Grand, whoever you are," Lt. Col. Lonneal Richardson, leader of the Salvation Army Northern Division, said one day after the sixth $1,500 donation was deposited late last week.

The charity has picked up on an obvious philanthropic pattern in recent years and is hoping the trend continues. The donation amount has grown by $100 for each deposit.

In 2014, there were seven donations of $1,000 each, then nine of $1,100 each in 2015 and upward annually until this year's $1,500.

For those keeping score at home, the overall total of these mystery donations stands at $136,700.

The Twin Cities Salvation Army, which maintains an extensive outreach effort on behalf of many hundreds of individuals and families in need, hopes to raise $12 million during the current Christmas campaign, which runs through Dec. 31.

About $3 million of this goal is expected to come from kettle donations, and the Salvation Army says it's about $350,000 behind the giving pace of last year.

A symbol of the holiday season, the red kettles date back to 1891 when Salvation Army Capt. Joseph McFee set out a pot to raise money for a Christmas meal for a thousand poor people in San Francisco and Oakland.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482