They are faceless givers, offering hope amid a grim run of news and the humdrum run-up to the holidays.
Last week, anonymous donors strolled into three Massachusetts Toys “R” Us stores, paying the balances on all the layaway orders.
And now comes the fulfillment of a widow’s hopes. She plunked her wedding band and engagement ring in one of those red Salvation Army kettles this month, enclosing an appraisal that valued the diamond engagement ring at $1,850. Perhaps, the widow wrote, someone could buy the ring for several times its worth.
A second woman — like the first, a widow — offered $21,000 for the rings Friday, the Salvation Army said. The Massachusetts woman told the charity she hoped to return the rings to the original owner.
“I want to be involved in this because it’s about the spirit of Christmas, the spirit of giving,” the woman, a former bell ringer for the charity, told Salvation Army officials. “My wish is that the rings can be returned to this woman who gave them up in memory of her husband for the sake of children at Christmas.”
The rings were dropped in a kettle outside North Station earlier this month with a note and the appraisal. In the note, the ring donor — whom even the Salvation Army can’t identify — said she was “hoping there’s someone out there who made lots of money this year and will buy the ring for 10 times its worth.”
“After all,” she wrote, “there’s no price on love or the sentimental value of this ring.”
Drew Forster, spokesman for the Massachusetts Salvation Army, said the new donor, who declined to be interviewed by the Globe, told the charity she hopes to return the rings because “this woman did a grand gesture, and because she started this, she deserves to have the rings back.”
“We certainly hope that the original donor has been paying attention to all the stories that this has generated and we hope that she’s been gratified,” Forster said, “and maybe that she would come forward in light of this new information. But we have not heard from anyone at this point.”
The $21,000 offer is one of nine the Salvation Army received, one coming from as far as Tennessee, Forster said. All of the offers were for more than the rings’ appraised value.
The money from the rings will go to the Salvation Army Cambridge Corps Community Center. It will be used to brighten the holidays for needy families, including buying toys for children — the original donor’s request.
“We are just blown away by these gifts and the way it has captured people’s imaginations,” Forster said.