Charitable organizations like the Salvation Army depend on donations to keep their operations running smoothly so they can help others in need.
Just two days after Christmas, the Salvation Army in Modesto, Calif., opened a late Christmas gift -- a check for $1.7 million.
"I stared at it for a while. Then took a picture of it with my phone," Salvation Army Capt. Michael Paugh said.
The generous gift was given by Elinor Sauerwein. Sauerwein, 96, lived very simply -- hardly the lifestyle of someone who could donate nearly $2 million.
"She did buy carpet for her house one year, which took an act of God," Paugh said.
Sauerwein lived through the Great Depression. She understood the value of the dollar and the importance of saving.
"She kept track of every penny. She was very frugal, never spent money, ultra frugal," financial advisor John Bullock said.
Her donation will go a long way in this California community. Modesto, a city located in the northern part of the Golden State just east of San Francisco, was hit especially hard by the recession.
Sauerwein chose the Salvation Army while researching several charities.
"Five years from now, she won't know it, but she will have touched closed to 100,000 people, because of that generosity," Paugh explained.
The Salvation Army in Modesto averages about $3 million a year in donations.
Sauerwein's generous gift makes up more than half of that figure. Officials say most of the money will go to battling hunger and helping the homeless.