updated 2/14/2005 6:34:23 PM ET 2005-02-14T23:34:23

A diamond engagement ring dropped in a Salvation Army kettle during the Christmas season was a gift from an anonymous donor — not a mistake, charity officials said Monday.

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That is the conclusion they reached after a monthlong search failed to turn up the owner.

“Whoever put the ring in the kettle wanted the Salvation Army to have it, and we consider the ring a donation,” said Broward County Salvation Army Capt. Steve Morris.

The 1/3-carat diamond set in 14-karat gold was found the week before Christmas when it got stuck in a sorting machine counting coins that had been dropped into the Salvation Army’s red kettles. A jeweler estimated the ring was worth up to $400.

Ring to be raffled
More than 200 people later called with tales about lost rings, Morris said. None described a ring with the same diagonal lines etched into a gold band.

A jewelry store offered the Salvation Army $300 for the ring and planned to give it away Tuesday in a raffle.

“For a needy person, for someone down on his luck, there has to be somewhere out there a man who wants to propose,” said Erik Langleiben, a salesman at Fountains Jewelers in Plantation.

Unusual items, such as rare gold or silver coins, often find their way into Salvation Army kettles. This holiday season, Broward County workers also found a set of car keys mistakenly dropped into a basket.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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