Three New York students purchased a couch for $20 at the Salvation Army — but they had no idea what was buried beneath the cushions.
According to digital newspaper The Little Rebellion, three students discovered $40,000 in cash hidden inside their couch in early March.
Students Reese Werkhoven, Cally Guasti and Lara Russo were trying out their new couch for the first time when they discovered a plastic envelope under the arm. Inside was a bundle of twenties adding up to $700.
"I almost peed," Werkhoven told the Rebellion.
The group continued searching the couch, finding multiple envelopes stuffed with cash.
“Just when we thought we pulled out the last envelope we’d find another $1,000 a few minutes later,” said Guasti.
After twenty minutes, the trio had uncovered $40,000 in cash. On one of those envelopes contained a woman's name.
“We had a lot of moral discussions about the money,” Russo told the Rebellion. “We all agreed that we had to bring the money back to whoever it belonged to… it’s their money– we didn’t earn it. However, there were a lot of gray areas we had to consider.”
After each of the students spoke with their parents, they decided to attempt to reach the woman named on the envelope. Werkhoven's mom found her number in a phone book and the group gave her a call. She answered.
"Oh, I left a lot of money in that couch," the unidentified woman said.
Werkhoven told her that he and his housemates would return the money, but was taken back by her shortness on the phone, the Rebellion reported.
“About halfway to her house we stopped the car and had a serious discussion…what if she’s a really bad person? What can we do at this point if we meet her and decide we don’t want to give her the money?” he asked.
Eventually, the group reached the home.
“I think the part of this whole experience that cleared away my prior thoughts and worries was when I saw the woman’s daughter and granddaughter greet us at the door.” Werkhoven said. “I could just tell right away that these were nice people.”
“When we handed the money back to the woman, she told us that she felt like her husband was present in the room with us,” Guasti told the Rebellion.
The woman told the Rebellion that her husband gave her money each week before he passed away and she had hidden it inside the couch. However, when she had an operation on her back and was away for several months, her daughter sold the couch and replaced it with a full-size bed, following a doctor's advice.
It ultimately ended up at the Salvation army, where the three students would discover it.
“We almost didn’t pick that couch,” Russo said. “It’s pretty ugly and smells, but it was the only couch that fit the right dimensions for our living room.”
According to the Rebellion, the woman gave the trio $1,000 for returning the money.
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