A Boston woman recently contacted the Salvation Army, saying she wanted to donate an expensive piece of jewelry but was worried it was too big to slip through the opening of the charity's trademark red kettle.
So Drew Forster, a spokesman for the nonprofit group's Massachusetts office, met the woman in person and accepted her bejeweled brooch in the shape of a fish. She also handed over a 1998 receipt in the amount of $4,680.
"A friend had given it to her and he had passed on, so she wanted to donate it in his honor," Forster told InsideEdition.com Monday.
The pin is made of gold and has 32 diamonds. The woman prefers to stay anonymous, he said, and she hoped the piece of jewelry was worth much more than its purchase price after 19 years.
It is the latest in what has become a local tradition of giving away jewelry, steeped in financial and sentimental value, to the organization that bestows holiday gifts and help to those in need.
It began in 2014, when a Boston widow carefully wrapped her engagement and wedding rings in paper, along with "a very sweet note," and dropped them in one of the Salvation Army's ubiquitous scarlet buckets, Forster said.
"I've dropped my wedding ring in your red kettle knowing that the money from its sale will buy toys for needy children. In all seasons, my husband was a giver," the widow wrote.
"I especially remember his joy in giving at Christmastime, especially to those in need.To honor his memory, I donate this ring. I'm hoping there's someone out there who made lots of money this year and will buy the ring for ten times its worth," she wrote.
Days later, a former bell-ringer came forward and offered $21,000 for the set. Also a widow, the woman wanted to return the rings to their rightful owner.
Forster arranged for the women to meet, he said. "The public became very enamored of the story," Forster said, after media stories ran about the exchange.
The pieces are sold, courtesy of an estate auction firm, with the proceeds given to the charity. Over the past three years, $70,000 was raised from Christmas jewelry donations.
"It's been a tradition ever since," Forster said.