MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — An anonymous Santa is helping the Salvation Army fill its red kettles this holiday season in Minnesota and North Dakota.

Donations had been down 20 to 30 percent compared with last year. Then a small group of anonymous donors pooled $2 million worth of matching funds to double all donations given in Minnesota and North Dakota on Friday and Saturday.

Final numbers won't be tallied until early next week, but Salvation Army officials say they're now optimistic about meeting their Twin Cities goal of $10.8 million.

Donations had been down due to a late Thanksgiving that gave bell-ringers a late start, followed by bitter cold that thinned the ranks of volunteers for several says. Major Jeff Strickler says the turnaround is nothing short of a miracle.