Guadalupe Reesor earned her living by sifting through piles of donated clothes and checking the items’ quality. In 2017, though, Reesor discovered something unusual while going about her daily business – something that stunned her, in fact. And when the thrift store employee alerted her manager to the find, she, too, couldn’t quite believe it.
Reesor comes from Garland, Texas, and works at a thrift store in nearby Richardson. This shop is run by the Jewish Family Service of Greater Dallas – an endeavor that its website describes as a “mental health and social services agency” and one that has been helping the local community for over 65 years.
And the organization uses its thrift store to help subsidize the services it provides. In order to do this, however, it relies on contributions from individuals and businesses that it can then sell on to the wider public. Indeed, a motto on the Jewish Family Service of Greater Dallas website states, “When you give good stuff, we can do great things.”
Reesor’s job at the store, meanwhile, was hardly glamorous; it was, however, important. That’s because she had to look over anything given for blemishes and holes. In essence, it was her duty to ensure that all donations were suitable for resale.
So, Reesor spent her working day in the back room of the store checking through piles of clothes. And although every item that passed through her hands was different, it’s easy to imagine that her job was monotonous. That is, until one day in 2017 – as that’s when Reesor would make a stunning discovery.
It all began when the store worker was looking over a donated item. The garment in question was a smart black pea coat and could quite possibly have earned the organization some vital funds. Naturally, then, as normal, Reesor got to work on inspecting it to see if it was worthy of being sold on.
In December 2017 Reesor would tell Dallas-based ABC affiliate WFAA, “I closed [the coat], and I checked [a] pocket.” She then moved on to the other pocket – and that’s when she would make her flabbergasting finding.
“I checked the pocket here, and this was full of money,” Reesor revealed. More specifically, she had stumbled across four envelopes, each of which turned out to be packed full of cash. And the Texas native couldn’t help but gasp when she realized just what she had found.
Subsequently, Reesor pulled the envelopes out of the coat and went running to her boss to share her discovery. “It was just so much that she could hardly hold on to it,” the thrift store’s assistant manager Kristina Russell said to WFAA. “I looked at it and thought, ‘That can’t be real.’”
Russell added, “We still couldn’t believe it: $17,000.” The sum was so vast, in fact, that she decided to contact her superior, Cathy Barker, who is Jewish Family Service of Greater Dallas’ COO. “I get a call from Kristina, who’s the assistant manager, saying something crazy happened and she doesn’t know what to do,” Barker recalled in her interview with WFAA.
The impressive pile of cash itself, meanwhile, was made up of $50 and $100 bills. And, at first, it may have seemed like a vital boost to Jewish Family Service of Greater Dallas’ coffers. “It was something any non-profit organization could definitely use,” Barker admitted. “But that wasn’t the right thing to do.”
Instead, the envelopes were searched for any clue as to their origin. Finally, some writing was found, and Barker was able to link that to someone named in the organization’s database of donors. That person, moreover, turned out to be a 78-year-old woman called Sheri.
Sheri had donated the coat following her husband’s death the previous January. The garment had been his, and so it was a fair bet that he had been the one who had placed the money inside the pocket. However, Sheri had had no inkling that it was there – nor, indeed, did she know why he may have been stashing cash.
When staff from Jewish Family Service of Greater Dallas contacted Sheri, however, she may have felt a wave of relief pass over her. Since the loss of her other half, the widow had been struggling for cash – and the bills were racking up, too.
So, needless to say, the impressive lump sum likely came as a welcome surprise to Sheri. “[I was] really concerned [about money], so I didn’t even reconcile my checking account this month,” she said to WFAA. “I didn’t even want to know what I’m going to be doing next year and what I’ll have to give up.”
It’s not unknown for thrift store workers to find money among clothing donations, though. In December 2017, for instance, staff at a St. Margaret’s Hospice-run shop in the U.K. were surprised to discover £5,000 ($6,805) balled up inside an pre-owned sock.
And like those at Jewish Family Service of Greater Dallas, workers at the U.K. store were concerned that someone had handed the cash over in error. As a result, they contacted the police, who in turn began a quest to find the money’s owner. But although more than a dozen people claimed that the cash could have been theirs, none of them could correctly describe the sock.
So, what did the authorities do with the not-inconsiderable sum? Well, in December 2017 Police Constable Paul Thomas told Metro, “Because we were unable to trace the rightful owner, the money has now gone to the hospice.” He added, “It’s a wonderful result.”
By contrast, Jewish Family Service of Greater Dallas returned every penny of the $17,050 to its rightful owner. Now, Sheri didn’t have to worry so much about finding the money to pay her bills. And although the funds would have come in handy for the organization, that was undoubtedly the correct thing to do.
However, Reesor’s good deed didn’t go unrewarded. In exchange for finding and returning the money, Sheri gifted her $1,000, in fact. It turns out, then, that honesty really was the best policy for everyone in the end.