During the recent Kettle Drive, the Salvation Army of Gulfport found a diamond engagement ring in one of their red kettles. It appears as though a Secret Santa wants to spread more than just holiday cheer. Major Gary Sturdivant, the Area Commander of the Salvation Army, says, "There was a lady trying to cram something into the kettle and the bell ringers were wondering what was going on and that evening they were like, ‘What was that lady trying to fit in the kettle?’” The Salvation Army bell welcomes monetary donations to its kettle, but a surprise came when a kettle from the Biloxi Walmart was being emptied. Something other than money was donated. Sturdivant also says, "We open it up and we see this big, two page yellow legal pad with a set of rings taped to it." The rings were wrapped around a yellow piece of paper and left by the Secret Santa. The paper reads: Perhaps the Salvation Army knows of a Christian couple wishing to make a commitment for life to each other. If so, please give these rings to that special young man for his bride." Lieutenant Jamie Ward, the Program Development Officer for the Salvation Army, says, "When we opened the note, there were the two rings taped to the paper and the room was filled with awe." The Salvation Army wants to do more than just give away the rings.
Sturdivant also says, "From the reading of the letter from the Secret Santa, it sounds like she would really love for this to be a special gift for someone.” The Salvation Army will honor the Secret Santa's wish and give the rings to a deserving couple, plus donate a wedding to the couple at the Salvation Army KROC Center. Sturdivant also says, "Every time I tell the story, I get goose bumps, because now I'm anticipating such a great day for this individual to do this with his lovely wife and they'll live happily ever after." Everyone involved with finding the rings are anticipating the day of the wedding and hope that the Secret Santa will attend. Couples may register at www.salvationarmymscoast.org. The contest is open to any deserving couple who would like a wedding that they couldn't otherwise afford. They may enter individually or as a couple. Entries are being accepted until midnight on January 1st, 2014. The winning couple will be announced in mid-January and will receive a Valentine’s Day dinner at a local restaurant where the gentleman will ask his future bride to marry him, per the wishes of the Secret Santa.