SPOKANE, Wash -

It's almost as much of a tradition as the red kettles themselves. This year, the donated gold coin came early to help the Salvation Army.

For several years, anonymous donors in cities across America have dropped gold coins in buckets during the holiday season. This year in Spokane, the coin came very early in the red kettle drive. Someone dropped it in November 22nd at the Wandermere Fred Meyer store.

The gold krugerrand, worth $1,190 as of Monday, was wrapped in a $100 bill. This year, it came with a letter from the donor, describing why it was left.

"The letter describes the very valid reasons why he gives the coin every year," said Salvation Army business administrator Sheila Geraghty. "It's because the Salvation Army has been helping him throughout his long career as a fireman in Spokane."