A Goodwill Industries outlet in St. Louis received a very generous donation this week: $14,505 in cash. The only problem is it appears to have been unintentional rather than a literal act of goodwill.
Store manager Tina Wells was sorting through a box of Christmas donations when she discovered the money, which included 266 $50 bills, 12 $100 bills and one $5 bill, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
"Oh my God," Wells told district manager Latrice Clayborne. "I have money. I found a lot of money."
Surveillance video shows that the donation box containing the mysterious cash was dropped off by someone in a Ford F150 pickup truck. However, the vehicle's license plate isn't visible on the tape, according to the College Times. In the surveillance video, a trailer used to transport the donated goods obscures the truck from visibility. At the end of the surveillance video you can see the truck pulling away but it was too far off in the distance for officials to get the license plate number.
And because of the ambiguity, there is no shortage of individuals claiming ownership of the cash.
"It turns out that right now, 15 people think they donated the money," MERS Goodwill CEO Lewis Chartock told the paper.
Those claiming to be the rightful owners of the $14,505 include a woman who has been calling Goodwill in tears every day since the incident was first reported.
Goodwill officials say the wrapping and decorations contained in the Christmas box are unique enough that whoever has a rightful claim to the cash should be able to describe the items. Officials believe that whoever dropped off the items did not mean to donate the cash.
For her part, Wells, 36, said she never intended to keep the money for herself.
"I can go home and sleep at night now," Wells said. "Otherwise, it'd come back and bite me. I really do think honesty is the best policy."
Her bosses said she will receive an as yet undetermined reward for her honesty. Goodwill says it will hold onto the cash for up to 30 days. If no one has made a legitimate claim to the money by then, the money will be donated to one of Goodwill's trusted charities, according to Clayborne.
Goodwill does receive unusual donations with some regularity. Last November, a man accidentally donated his life savings to the charitable organization when he later realized his pension was sewed into the lining of a suit he'd donated.
And in May, Goodwill officials in New York say that a seemingly ordinary piece of property donated to one of their stores may in fact be a piece of ancient, Native American pottery dating back several thousand years.
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