Gold tooth turns up in Salvation Army kettle in Kansas City area

Someone dropped this gold tooth in a Salvation Army kettle on Wednesday in Kansas City, North.
Someone dropped this gold tooth in a Salvation Army kettle on Wednesday in Kansas City, North. Salvation Army

In his 50 years working with Salvation Army holiday kettle collections, Maj. Rick Carroll has seen a lot of strange things dropped in the bucket.

He’s found diamond rings and silver bars and four-leaf clovers, and once a child poured his father’s entire silver-dollar collection into a kettle.

“We had to give that one back,” Carroll said.

But what turned up this week is the wildest donation of all, he said. Sometime Wednesday, someone walking past a kettle somewhere in Kansas City, North, dropped in a gold tooth.

“I’ve heard of people giving the shirt off their back, but never their teeth,” said Carroll, who is responsible for all the Salvation Army work in 37 ZIP codes in the Northland.

Carroll dropped off Wednesday’s kettle collections at a bank to be counted. On Thursday morning, “the bank called and said they had something for me to pick up,” Carroll said.

It was the tooth.

“My first thought was ‘That’s kind of gross,’” he said.

Maybe so, but also a nice gesture. Depending on the amount of gold, a Salvation Army statement said, “experts say a gold dental restoration could be worth up to $100 or more.”

The charity won’t cash it in just yet because Carroll can’t be sure the donation was intentional. What if the owner was carrying it in a pocket, scooped it out along with loose change — and now comes looking for it?

“We’ll hold onto it, just in case,” he said.

The money would come in handy. The kettle collections portion of the Kansas City Salvation Army’s $11 million Christmas campaign is $50,000 behind where it was at this time a year ago. In past years, Carroll said, area corporations have matched kettle donations, “but we don’t have that this year.”

So the agency is asking people to “dig deep” in their pockets to get this year’s drive back on pace.

Teeth, too? Well, every little bite helps.

To reach Mará Rose Williams, call 816-234-4419 or send email to