No matter how many coat drives there are in the winter, a number of people still find themselves woefully ill-equipped for the cold.
Nonprofits struggle to make ends meet and serve the community in the winter more than ever. They rely on generous donations to stay afloat and provide services to the less fortunate.
For the last three years, Guadalupe Reesor has been an integral cog in the machine of a Dallas-based nonprofit. She spends her day checking donated coats for stains, holes, and the occasional nicknack left behind in a pocket.
She’s found a number of things in the countless number of coats she’s checked over the years. But nothing compares to what she pulled out of the pocket of a black peacoat earlier this December.
While checking a peacoat at a Dallas non-profit donation center, Guadalupe Reesor found four envelopes in one of the pockets.
Reesor has found small sums of money in the pockets of coats in the past. In fact, that very day she found $15 in another one of the coats she checked. But this was entirely different.
She pulled out the four envelopes, checked inside, and tried not to yell at the top of her lungs.
“I checked the pocket here, and this was full of money,” Reesor told reporters from ABC affiliate WFAA.
She quickly walked from her station to the front of the store to show her assistant manager, Kristina Russell, what she’d found. Russell was just as shocked as Reesor was.
“It was just so much that she could hardly hold on to it. I looked at it and thought ‘that can’t be real,'” Russell said to WFAA.
The two counted the sum of money inside the four envelopes. The total was a staggering $17,050, all in $100’s and $50’s.
Unsure of what to do, Russell decided to call the Chief Operating Officer of the nonprofit. Cathy Barker wasn’t in the store at the time, but when Russell told her what she’d just found, it commanded her full attention.
“It was something any non-profit organization could definitely use. But that wasn’t the right thing to do,” Barker said. One of the envelopes had writing on it that made it possible to trace the coat back to its original owner.
The name on the envelope matched a name in the donor database, and they took a trip out to the home. They found an elderly widower who was donating the remains of her husband’s wardrobe.
The 78-year-old senior asked that she be identified only as Sheri. She said she was completely unaware that her husband was stashing large amounts of cash and can’t imagine why he was doing that.
The non-profit found the original owner of the coat, a 78-year old woman named Sheri, and returned the money.
With the departure of her late husband, Sheri was falling on tough times financially. Her bills were starting to pile up and she didn’t have the money to pay for them.
“[I was] really concerned, so I didn’t even reconcile my checking account this month,” she told 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.”
She was amazed by the effort put forward by the nonprofit to return such a large sum of cash. She asked who found the money, and later that day gave Reesor a $1,000 reward for her impressive show of honesty.