CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Someone slipped a $5,500 donation into one of the Salvation Army’s red kettles in northwest Georgia, a Chattanooga spokeswoman for the charity said Wednesday.

Salvation Army spokeswoman Kimberly George said the charity found 55 $100 bills in one of its donation kettles, making it the largest cash donation in the area.She said the gift deposited Tuesday is especially welcome because donations this season.”This will be a boost, but the need is great,” George said.

“Need is up 30 percent and donations have been, at best, flat.”George said there have been similar large gifts in past years and “we hope this will inspire others.”She said a man who put the money in a red kettle at the Kmart plaza in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., told the bell ringer, ‘Merry Christmas, please remember me.

“‘The bell ringer did not describe the man.Large holiday donations in previous years in the same area possibly came from the same person, George said.In the past, kettles have yielded 43 and 23 $100 bills and, one year, 1,500 $2 bills.

The Salvation Army needs bell ringers and people willing to volunteer can go online to the national site,, select the city they would like to volunteer in and register.