No matter how many times it happens, it never gets old.

About this time in December - with just a few days until Christmas and the end of Red Kettle season - anonymous people give unexpected donations to the Salvation Army through the kettles.

In other years and other locations, people have given diamond rings and gold coins worth thousands of dollars.

In Carlisle, Pa., on Friday, someone anonymously donated an 1884 $5 U.S. gold coin to the Salvation Army.

Wrapped in a clear protective sleeve - the kind that coin dealers use to display coins without having them subject to being handled - the coin had a value of $575 written on the sleeve.

The coin is what is known as a "half-eagle," said Richard Murray, of the Gold Mine coin and jewelry shop in Mechanicsburg. "That particular type was minted from 1839 through 1908, variety one."

Although Murray had not seen the coin in person, he read specs from a coin dealers' manual that described the coin as being 8.39 grams in weight, 0.23187 pure gold, with an actual value of $385, assuming the coin were to be melted down and sold for its gold content.

For collectors of coins, though, the coin's value lies not in its gold content but in its quality - its condition, if it has any flaws, its rarity.

Murray said that without seeing the coin, he could not be definitive about its value, but he guessed it to be anywhere from $370 and up.

The Salvation Army is thankful for the donation.

"I think it's just wonderful," Maureen Mahr, business administrator for the Salvation Army, said.

"People give from the heart, and being anonymous is just an extra touch."