Some New York college students got quite a surprise after buying an old couch for twenty bucks from a Salvation Army store. When they brought it home, they discovered envelopes full of $40,000 in cash hidden throughout the couch.


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At first, like any college students, they immediately started planning the trips they would take with their newfound riches. But then they found a deposit slip in one of the envelopes and realized they may be in possession of someone's life savings.

It turns out all the cash belonged to a 91-year-old widow who hid it there because she didn't trust banks. Her children had donated the couch while she was in the hospital, unaware of all the money that was stashed inside.

It was a happy ending for all involved. The elderly woman got her savings back, and Reese Werkhoven and Cally Guasti each got $1,000 from her as a reward for doing the right thing.

Read more on the story below from Little Rebellion, an independent online digital publication produced by SUNY New Paltz students.


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“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 said.

In an interview, the woman, who asked not to be identified, explained how her money was lost.

Her husband had had a heart condition and knew his time was limited. Before he died, he gave her money each week to put away for when he passed.  For 30 years she stored her savings inside an old couch in the television room where she slept.  When her husband passed away, she remained working as a florist and continued to store her money in the couch, until she had an operation on her back and went to a rehabilitation center for several months.

Upon the woman’s doctor’s advice, the woman’s daughter and son-in-law replaced the couch she used to sleep on with a full-size bed.

The couch ended up at the Salvation Army store in New Paltz and was bought for $20 by three genuinely good young people who had the strength and wherewithal to make a commendable moral decision.

“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.”