Shelie Bavo Williams told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal she had put the ring in the kettle anonymously Monday, along with a note describing the gold ring with a small diamond, a Christmas greeting and one of her husband's favorite sayings: "Don't take any wooden nickels."
"I gave the ring a kiss when I dropped it in the kettle, thinking I would never see it again, but I knew it was going to benefit the Salvation Army and those that they help," said Williams, who had been making an annual donation each Christmas since her husband Victor Bravo died of cancer on Dec. 23, 2006.
But after word about the ring got out, appraised at $250, an anonymous donor came forward with a donation so it could be returned to Williams. Salvation Army staff had kept the saying about wooden nickels secret to assure the right person got the ring back, the newspaper said.
"She gave us the quote, and we knew it was her right off the bat," said Justin Eatherly, the charitable organization's community relations and development director in Lubbock.
Williams, who was short on cash this year, said she decided to donate the ring, which she had given her husband on their first Christmas together, after remembering one of his other favorite phrases, "you can't take it with you when you go."
"It was weighing heavy on my heart because I didn't feel like I had enough money to donate," Williams said. "But I had something more valuable than money in the bank
"There wasn't a name on what I typed because it wasn't about me. It was about rekindling the reason for the season.
"People question God's love sometimes and why he puts us through things like a family member's death, but sometimes it makes us stronger. God never puts us through things we can't handle. We're meant to learn from the experiences that God puts us through, and we're then given the opportunity to pay it forward to someone else in their time of need."