NORMAN, Okla. — A worker sifting through donations at an Oklahoma Goodwill found $42,000 in cash wrapped between two sweaters.
Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma said Andrea Lessing felt a strange lump in the sweaters while she was sorting items at the Norman store and thought it would be books when she pulled out the stacks of cash a couple of weeks ago.
“My first thought was that it was fake,” Lessing told CNN. “We’ve seen $5 and $20 donated here and there, but never in my life had I seen that much money.”
She soon realized the money was real. She did not think twice about returning it to its rightful owner. There were identifying documents with the money so they were able to track down the owner.
“With every decision I make, I have to think about whether I would want my daughter to follow in my footsteps,” Lessing said. “I want her to know that kindness, integrity, and honesty can get you a lot of places in life.”
For her moral compass, Lessing was given $1,000 reward. She said she plans to use some of the money for her daughter’s birthday.
“Because of everything that’s been going on within the past year and a half, it just meant more than anyone could imagine,” Lessing said. “I didn’t return the money expecting a reward or expecting to be on the news, I just believe if you do something good, it will come back to you eventually. And it did.”
Goodwill said Lessing’s actions exemplify the behavior they look for in employees.
“Andrea showed integrity when she turned in the money and Goodwill showed its integrity as an organization by tracing the donors so we could return the money,” CEO of Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma Jim Priest wrote in a statement to CNN. “Andrea could have kept the money and Goodwill could have kept the money, but integrity is doing the right thing and it’s a core value we strive to live out every day.”
The thrift store said it is the largest cash find in Oklahoma Goodwill history and one of the largest at any location worldwide, CNN reported.
“I never expected anything like this to happen to me of all people,” Lessing said in a statement. “To me it was just another normal day at work. I was in the back sorting. I never expected to come across $42,000. I made the right decision, and I did the right thing.”