Lt. Rick Garcia of the Salvation Army in Aurora, Ill., said Friday the South African Krugerrand is worth $1,200 and was dug out from the bottom of a donation kettle this week, The (Aurora) Beacon-News reported.
Garcia said donations often include chocolates wrapped in gold foil while pranksters sometimes will weight candy coins to give them a false heft, tricking volunteers into thinking they've stumbled across a rare mega donation. But Garcia said this week's find was the real thing.
"Just the weight of it alone, and I knew something was up," he explained.
The newspaper said Garcia unwrapped a pair of dollar bills from around what some consider the Rolls Royce of gold coins: a 1-ounce gold Krugerrand.
"It was like carrying the Super Bowl trophy of donations," Maj. Robert Hall told the Beacon-News. "It's the community's gold, and it's encouragement for them to go out and help represent the Salvation Army."