Gold teeth dropped in LaPorte kettle contribute to record year – WSBT

December 30, 2014 Posted by admin

A set of gold teeth given to a bell ringer contributed to the LaPorte Salvation Army shattering its previous Christmas kettle drive record.

Just over $98,000 was collected in the kettles, breaking the old mark by about $15,000, said LaPorte Salvation Army pastor and administrator Greg Irwin.

”That helps to make up for the down year last year and then some,” said Irwin, who noted $68,000 was raised during the 2013 kettle drive.

This year’s grand total includes the $154 a set of gold teeth was purchased for by an Indianapolis-area precious metals buyer who specializes in acquiring scrap dental work.

Several gold crowns and partial crowns along with a bridge made of gold were given December 13 to Larry Ussery while he was ringing a Salvation Army bell outside Wal-Mart on LaPorte’s east side. 

Who gave the gold teeth was not known, but Ussery described him as in his late 60s with a mouth full of apparently new teeth. He also uttered a few complaints about his dentist, Ussery said.

Ketra Bolster, this year’s kettle drive coordinator, said she thought the teeth would command a slightly higher price but was still happy with the amount.

”$154 will go a very long way toward helping the people in our community,” said Bolster, who added a check for the teeth is enroute after accepting the appraiser’s offer over the weekend.

Irwin said major reasons for the record year including more volunteer bell ringers this year and the community rallying behind the cause with some local businesses and schools, for example, making good-sized contributions.

He also felt the lack of snow and mild temperatures in December brought out more people who otherwise would stay at home.

”Right from the very beginning things started out well and they kept getting better and better,” said Irwin.

The Salvation Army in Michigan City brought in about $108,000 from its kettles. A few thousand dollars more than last year, said Jennifer Merrill, office manager for the organization on Franklin St.

A gold coin worth more than $1,000 was deposited into a Michigan City kettle last year but no gold of any kind was left this year.

”We didn’t get anything exciting this time,” said Merrill.

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