But one donation dropped in an Alabama Red Kettle last week caught everyone off guard.
This sound is embedded in our collective understanding of the Christmas season; it's the sound of hope, compassion and charity.
The small slot of the red kettles the Salvation Army uses to collect donations is just big enough for you to slip in some spare change and, on occasion, a few bills.
But one mystery donor found a way to make the kettle fit a $10,000 surprise.
"I just sat there for a minute looked at it, showed one of the other girls that was counting, and we both just started crying,” said Tracey Ridgeway, Salvation Army Director.
That one donation made half of the group’s $20,000 goal.
Before this deposit, the biggest check she knows about in the history of collecting in this community was $500 dollars.
"That is true charity and you don't want anything in return, you don't want a tax write-off, you don't want any recognition for it,” Ridgeway said.
"There are good people in the world, you hear bad news all the time, but there is still good people who want to help,” she added. "We appreciate every penny, nickel dime, quarter, every dollar."