The purchase of a secondhand couch from a thrift store in Michigan led to an incredible discovery for Howard Kirby. Afterward, however, Kirby and his daughter felt something not quite right inside one of the couch cushions.
Upon opening the cushion, they found stacks of $100 bills, adding up to over $43,000. “I still have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming or something,” Kirby said to WNEM. Kirby lives on a fixed income and his house is in need of serious repairs, so it seemed like a dream come true.
“Everything just ran through my mind: Now I can pay off the house, I can get a roof on my house, and I can retire real good and everything,” he told WJRT. A lawyer told Kirby that he could have legally kept the money, yet his faith led him to a different decision. “Jesus would give it back to the rightful owner,” he shared.
Once Kirby decided to do what he felt was right, he contacted the manager of the Saginaw-Shiawassee Habitat for Humanity thrift store, and they managed to track down the person who had donated the couch, Kim Fauth-Newberry, whose grandfather had originally owned it.
For the Fauth-Newberry family, the whole story was “just crazy,” as Kim said. Kirby and the Fauth-Newberrys have since developed a relationship. “I think I got something that $43,000 just isn’t going to buy if I kept it, and that is friendship,” Kirby said. Yet, that friendship led to something more: the family, alongside Habitat for Humanity, offered to help replace Kirby’s roof.
Store manager Rick Merling was just as stunned by the gesture as the couch’s original owners were. He shared, “To me, this is someone that despite what they’re going through—and in spite of their own needs—says ‘I’m just going to do the right thing.’”
Nor were they alone in recognizing the extraordinary gesture, and yet more reward was in store. Donors from all over the country contributed to a GoFundMe campaign that successfully raised $15,000 to repay Kirby for his honesty.
Meanwhile, Kirby appreciates the clean conscience his good deed brought him. “I’ve heard about it happening before and I always thought, what would I do if I found that money? Now I know,” he shared. “Makes me feel good. I believe I’m doing the right thing.”
He added, “I know that there have been other comments, my son brought up on saying that I was crazy for doing it, well yeah I am crazy. I’m crazy for Christ.”
Faith was a major factor for many who decided to donate to the initiative. One donor who grew up in Kirby’s hometown of Ovid, Michigan, shared, “We never know the impact one godly decision can have on many others. Jesus said the seeds planted in rich soil would reap a hundred fold, and this is a present day example of that illustration!”
Others added that it was important to share Kirby’s story because of the example it would set for others. “Doing the right thing when others are not looking is a rare thing these days, sadly,” one person added. “Rewarding good behavior encourages folks to act right in tough circumstances.”
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