Man Finds $500 In Book Bought At Goodwill Sparking Debate About What He Should Do With The Money

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Goodwill donation location

A woman on Twitter went viral after posting a tweet about an experience her son had and asked a very simple question.

Her 30-year-old son went to Goodwill — a popular thrift store location — and purchased a book for 50 cents, but upon opening the book discovered $500 inside.

What would you do if you found $500 in a book at Goodwill?

“Of course he’s excited and wants to keep it. (He’s 30, I have no say) What would you do?” the tweet read, further clarifying that “The book was A Clockwork Orange.”

This sparked a large and oddly surprising debate on the morality, legality, and ethics of the entire situation — is the money rightfully his to keep?

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Should he go return it? But what if the cashier or manager simply pockets it and runs? Then he just missed out on $500 dollars and was left with a nearly 60-year-old book.

Say the worker does wait for someone to claim it, how would they verify who the previous owner of the $500 was?

“Go back to the Goodwill store and let the manager know there was a lot of cash in the book,” said Twitter user Shelly Dawson Gilley. “Don’t [say] how much, just something vague. If the money is not claimed in 30 days, it’s yours. If it’s claimed, the person should be able to state the amount, the denominations. Then it’s his.”

According to common law, lost property has no time limit, and “a person who found lost personal property could keep it until and unless the original owner comes forward.”

But there are several problems with this because money is something that could be spent it’s totally different than if someone lost something like a bike.

Not only that, but Goodwill doesn’t keep records on who donates what, and somebody who previously worked at Goodwill said that they’d likely pocket the money as a sale for the company.

“Don’t do this. I worked at goodwill they will take that money and ring it up as a sale,” they wrote. “For 5 years I watched good people donate items at the back door they thought would go to somebody while we priced it for as much money as we thought we can get for it.”

Many people similarly brought up Goodwill and how the company works — claiming that they aren’t the greatest charity organization people think they are.

Goodwill is not a non-profit.

“Goodwill is a FOR profit company. They are not like Salvation Army,” someone tweeted. “They pocket every penny they make after everything is donated. If he does decide to donate it, have him send it to a worth local cause.”

In a 2016 piece for Nonprofit Quarterly Ruth McCambridge examines a recent World-Herald piece by Henry Cordes that reveals how Goodwill actually spends less than one-eighth of its profits on the job-related programs they market as their primary pillar of charity work.

So a lot of people are against the corporation receiving any more money than they deserve — but like the idea of how their donations and thrifting work.

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Prices are generally cheap and fair and there are people who really need the items that are donated to their locations.

Andy Milonakis, a popular YouTuber, weighed in with his opinion on the matter, replying “Buy $250 worth of books and donate them, keep the rest just don’t buy heroin with it.”

But some people don’t understand why the guy needs to do anything at all, and that he should just keep the money because it isn’t his fault if someone messed up and someone could have even done it intentionally.

Either way, Twitter is split on the decision while that guy is $500 richer unless he decides to do something else with it.

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Isaac Serna-Diez is a writer who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics. Follow him on Twitter here.