Skip to comments.College Students In New Paltz Find $40,000 In Couch Bought At Thrift Store
Posted on 05/15/2014 2:18:11 PM PDT by nickcarraway
They picked it up at a local thrift store, paying only $20 for the couch.
But inside, three college roomates found a stash full of money, totalling $40,000.
The students in New Paltz had a tough decision: do they keep the money or track down the owner who stole it?
The ugly and kind of uncomfortable couch came from the Salvation Army, and for a couple of months it just sat there in the tiny apartment, until Reese Werkhoven decided to find out why it was so lumpy.
"There's a zipper on the bottom, and he pulled out a bag, and we said it's either drugs or money, and we freak out and it's a stack of hundreds and fifties," said student Lara Russo.
"So we pulled it out of the couch and we're shaking and the first thing Lara said is 'lock the doors'," said Reese.
"Next door they actually thought that we won the lottery. Our walls are really thin between our wall and their wall," said social worker Callie Guasti.
The first envelope had $4,000 in it, the others added up to over $40,000.
"At first we found the money but there was no name or anything, and we're bugging out, like, what kind of boat are we going to get, where are we going," said Reese.
"I wanted to go on an epic road trip around the United States, that would be awesome," said Lara.
Envelope by envelope the money was piling up, and the Salvation Army doesn't keep records on this sort of thing, so they wouldn't have known who donated that couch. The three admit they were thinking about all the cool things they could do with that money, until they found the deposit slip. And then it became a whole different moral issue.
But what's most remarkable about the three, who are all from New York City and went to the same high school, is that there wasn't a question or even a debate. The money wasn't theirs.
"We were always pretty clear, if we could find her and she was alive, it was her money, no matter what the circumstances," Lara said.
They tracked down the woman whose name was on the envelope. She is 91 years old and had recently broken a hip. She didn't trust banks, and her kids donated the couch when she was in the hospital. She was a widow.
"That's one of the things she said, 'I feel like this is a gift from my husband, he's looking down on me and that's part of the reason you guys came here', which was so touching," said Callie.
Three kids, whose collective savings add up to, well, they don't have any savings. But they sure do have an abundance of goodwill.
"It wasn't a debate, we immediately reached a consensus that this is her money," said Reese.
I think the writer meant "who sold it" not "who stole it"!
BTW, good story about these kids doing the right thing.
A really beautiful thing those kids did.
Absolutely! I am among the loudest on these threads when it comes to dumping on Millenials, but these kids absolutely showed the kind of character, honesty, and respect for others which made this country great. And it does give me some hope.
I would have kept the money.
Me too. If you’re stupid enough to donate a couch in which you have $40,000 stashed, well, you’re stupid.
Keep quiet, and split the money. No telling if it was granny’s stash, a drug dealer ripoff, or worse, a Clinton or BHO bundler...
40 grand would buy one helluva toga party!
I think they did the right thing, but it can be argued on the other side.
They bought the couch in good faith. Whatever was in the couch went with it.
They had no moral obligation to return the money, but since the couch was donated without the knowledge or consent of the actual owner, I think what they did was admirable.
For the record I would have been sorely tempted to just keep the money...I hope I would have had the integrity to do what these kids did.
“She didn’t trust banks, and her kids donated the couch when she was in the hospital.” 91 years old, and in the hospital with a broken hip.
Yeah, I’m a greedy bastard. I’m keeping the cash.
So someone wants to hide something in a couch and installs a ZIPPER instead of sewing it closed again??
If her kids didn't know about it, she didn't trust them either!
Did they “check their privilege?” I mean... really./sarc
“I feel like this is a gift from my husband, he’s looking down on me and that’s part of the reason you guys came here”
She trusts and most certainly misses her husband.
I would say that contractually, their good faith purchase is trumped by the lack of knowledge or consent by the owner of the sale. So they actually had no legal claim to the money. Morally, of course, they certainly had no claim to money once they realized they could contact the owner and return it.
Practically speaking, however, since no one knew of their discovery but them, these issues conflated into a spiritual test - which they passed.
LOL! A friend of my brother’s inherited an auto salvage lot when his grandfather died, and he found cash squirrelled away in many of the junk cars.
The grandfather fell off the porch and broke his leg, and when he woke up and found he was in the hospital, he died of a heart attack, poor fellow.
Sofa cushions have zippers on them, so you can take the covers off to clean them, or replace the foam insert if it’s too lumpy or the cat peed on it.
Most all sofa cushions that are removable have zippers. It's easier, cheaper, and faster than tying to sew them shut after they've been stuffed. Worked in the furniture-making biz for a few years. Stuffing cushions sucked. It was made easier with a vacuum and some silicone spray (wrap the foam in light plastic, vacuum shrink it, put the cover on, release the vacuum, then work the foam into the corners and zip 'em up.
See also “Grandma’s milk cartons” by Mike Cross.
Or as I have heard put another way, “doing the right thing when no one is looking”
Good they did the right thing. A clear conscience is a good thing.
Some years ago a demolition company was tearing down an old house near downtown La Crosse, Wisconsin. As they tore down the walls, one of the workers found hundreds of silver dollars attached to the inside of the walls. I don’t remember exactly how much they were all worth, but it was a considerable sum. Start tearing your old house apart immediately. (snicker)
I heard about a man that bought a small farm and didn’t like where some shrubs were so he got a digger and up comes a strong box full of silver dollars and pistols from the 1800s. Original owners long gone.
$40,000 would still be a nice find, not so sure I would do the right thing honestly! At least not by myself, I’d HAVE to have the good Lord guide me in the end.
it gives me hope too, not all is lost as long as we have young people with strong morals and convictions.
God bless these young people and may they find success in life. Well, may we all.
Evidently those students are better morally than some freepers.
I applaud the students .
Good hearted kids - once they found a name there was no question of not trying to return it.
It's making the right choices like that throughout life that keep you asleep at night in your later years.
Uh, so all those people who buy a very old painting that turns out to be a masterpiece or worth a lot...have to return it???Duh.
If whoever had the couch couldn’t notice the lumpiness or the woman’s kids were stupid enough not to check the couch for money or jewels ..I say the kids could keep the money.
College kids doing something ethically right? Maybe there is hope for America.
Uh, if the masterpiece painting was sold without the knowledge or permission of the owner, then yes, the buyer would have to return it when that fact was discovered. Duh.
I don't think you're done "recovering" yet.
Your true character shows when no one is looking at how you act.
...these issues conflated into a spiritual test - which they passed.
Exactly. They did as any of us should do.
The woman’s children “DONATED” THE COUCH TO THE SALVATION ARMY.That is like “selling it in a garage sale”. when you donate something you give up rights to it. No doubt when the woman went into the nursing home, they got rid of the mother’s belongings that weren’t given to them or items she wanted to take with her to the nursing home. By your logic anyone who helps their parents move into a nursing home and donates items to a charity or has a garage sale for their parents,must then assume that the value of the item must be reimbursed no matter how many people get it.
that would defeat the purpose of ‘donations”.
Were they talking about the cushions? I’m aware that those typically have zippers, but I thought I read that the money was in the body/frame of the couch, where a zipper would certainly be out-of-place. Maybe I was just thinking the body because if I were going to hide something in a couch, that’s where I’d put it.
When my mother passed away I went through her stuff and threw out all the things I couldn’t figure out why she kept. But I made sure to look inside everything first.
Yes they did have a moral obligation to return the money. I have made decisions that were life or death and not my own. My decisions were much harder.
Those kids made the right decision are far better men and women today for their decision.
Did anyone notice these upright young citizens are from NEW YORK CITY????
I’d love to know which high school they all went to, if it is public, private or parochial.
The mother obviously did not intend to give away the money. So there’s no intent on her part, no explicit act on her part, no knowledge on her part of the donation, and perhaps even no comprehension by the time it was done die to a degree of dementia. That’s called... no intent.
In addition, there’s this morality thing that goes even beyond the legalities of those considerations (mind blowing that that’s even possible, isn’t it?).
But don’t worry about any of these issues. There’s no point trying to reach beyond your grasp.
Well, you know, they didn't specifically state the cushions. The article mentioned they opened it up because it was lumpy. So, I guess it was an assumption on my part. My wife and I purchased a new sofa sectional set last year, and everything has zippers on it. The seat cushions (even though they are attached), the back cushions, armrests. All of them have zippers now. It's kind of nice, because you can unzip them and re-fluff the back cushions and armrests (they're stuffed with dacron).
What do you think?
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Yes, they did a lovely thing.
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