- Associated Press - Thursday, December 25, 2014
Wisconsin bell ringers find a diamond ring

MOUNT PLEASANT, Wis. (AP) - Ring a bell, get a ring?

The Journal Times of Racine (https://bit.ly/1HHnw7V) reports Salvation Army bell ringers in Mount Pleasant found a diamond ring inside their red kettle during a Tuesday donation drive. After a few days of waiting for an owner to come forward, the Racine Salvation Army is considering the ring a generous donation.

Diamond rings have been popping up in red kettles across the country.

Local corps officer Major Ken Nicolai says they’ve received jewelry before, but nothing as valuable as the ring. The Salvation Army is still waiting to get the ring appraised.

Donations - and unusual contributions like the diamond ring - have surged since the Salvation Army announced it was behind on its fundraising goal.


Wausau man celebrates 40 Christmases with 1 tree

WAUSAU, Wis. (AP) - Neil Olson put up a Christmas tree when two of his sons went off to war in 1974, vowing not to take it down until all six children came home for Christmas. The same tree is still standing in his living room.

Olson’s oldest son was injured in the Vietnam War, and his disability has stopped him from returning to Wausau for Christmas. So the tree has stayed up, still covered in the same ornaments, tinsel and lights as the day Olson decorated it. And the needles, though yellowing, are still there.

“The needles are kept on for a reason,” Olson, 89, told the Wausau Daily Herald (https://mnhne.ws/1JRQnKLhttps://mnhne.ws/1JRQnKL ). “It’s supernatural, I say.”

Five of Olson’s six sons live in Wausau. His youngest, Rich Olson, said the tree has become part of his father’s furniture.

“It’s like family now. I hate to take it down,” he said.

Despite its permanent status in his home, Neil Olson hasn’t flicked on the lights since the year he put up the tree. The large, multi-colored lights are now nearly 100 years old, he said.

“It’d just blow up on me,” he joked. “All that dust on there. It’d be like an atomic bomb.”


Milwaukee police don Santa hats for special deliveries

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Some Milwaukee police officers have traded in their guns for presents and Santa hats.

Officers from District 5 delivered gifts and meals to nine local families on Christmas Eve - a five-year tradition for the officers, who “adopt” a family they’ve come across in the community to spread some holiday cheer.

Milwaukee resident Jennifer Williams and her eight grandchildren were one of those families. And they weren’t expecting much of a Christmas. Williams took in her grandchildren, who are between 11 and 20 years old, earlier this year after their mother died of cancer. Then, Williams was diagnosed with cancer herself.

“They were asking for certain things, and I kept telling them, ‘We don’t have it. We can’t afford it right now,’ so for this to come, this is a blessing,” Williams told WISN-TV (https://bit.ly/1CQpL7Whttps://bit.ly/1CQpL7W ).

The police department’s connection with the community has been strained this year after an officer shot an unarmed black man downtown, which spurred weeks of protests. But the officers’ Christmas Eve tradition may have helped soften that divide.

“Don’t always judge what you hear because there’s good in everybody. So this shows, they’re looking out for the community,” Williams said.

The meals were donated, and officers used their own money and time to deliver gifts.



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