An 80-year-old Illinois man is declining numerous offers of monetary assistance from those who've learned he mistakenly donated an old suit to Goodwill with his $13,000 life savings sewn inside the lining.
The man, described as too embarrassed to be identified, doesn't know the exact date he dropped off his gray coat and pants along with other items at the Goodwill in Moline, Ill., but when he realized his mistake at least a week later, he "broke down and cried." He kept the cash hidden in the suit for years because he didn't trust banks, a not-uncommon practice of Depression-era Americans.
Goodwill employees from western Illinois to eastern Iowa have been conducting a search for the suit containing the cash, which the man needs to help care for his wife who's battling stage-4 cancer. He's offering a $1,000 reward for his lost savings.
Local TV news outlet WQAD has been fielding emails from "hundreds" of people across the country who want to give money to the man:
"Is there an address for the elderly man whom accidentally gave away the $13,000...I am from the Branson, Missouri area...My heart goes out to him. I'd like to make a donation with the hopes someone will return his money...just want to help..."
"If you could please ask his daughter to open a charity account or give people a place to donate to him, I know I would love to give him $100.00 this holiday season," a California woman wrote. "I am not wealthy, but I can understand how hard times can be when a loved one [has] cancer and all the world seems to be so black."
Last night, the man's daughter released a statement to WQAD from her father thanking those who've offered to help but "respectfully" declining financial assistance:
"Our family would like to thank each and every one of you that have come forward wanting to make a donation to my father for the money he has lost. We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of generosity from around the world. My father's wishes are to respectfully decline any donations of any kind. He only wanted someone to come forward with the money he gave away in error. God bless all of you. Sincerely, Our Family."
The man and his family searched through items at the store where he dropped off the suit, said Dana Engelbert, vice president of marketing for Goodwill of the Heartland. “It could have been put out on the store floor [in Moline] already and sold," she said, adding that employees also are searching through more than a month's worth of donations at their Iowa City warehouse, where spring and summer clothing donations are being stored for the winter.
“We have a network of 14 stores spread far and wide across our territory, we have a great staff who wants to help,” said Engelbert. “We very much want to find this money."
“Any time we’re told someone loses their life savings, that’s very important," she added. "This family could use this money right now...we’re taking it very seriously.”
Here's another news report on the missing cash: