MARYLAND

Who was the secret Santa who donated $9,000?

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Salvation Army bell ringing is a familiar sound during the holiday season. But some change counts more.

Five gold coins were found Tuesday in Salvation Army kettles around Frederick. The 22 karat gold coins weigh one ounce each and are worth $1,750 a piece.

But who was this secret Santa?

Matt Lerner - owner of the Frederick Coin Exchange - secretly dropped the five coins, or south African Kruggerands as they are called, into the red kettles. In total, it’s a $9,000 donation.

"It was a way for me to make donating money to the Salvation Army fun,” he says.

Last year, Lerner put a single gold coin in a kettle worth $1,500. That was the largest donation to the Salvation Army in Frederick that season. This Christmas, the charity will serve 950 needy families, many with children.

Lerner's precious metal business is up this year too. With the tight economy, customers are turning in coins and gold. So Lerner decided it was only right to give back more than ever.

"Part of being fair and being a part of the community is giving back," he says.

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