USA Today just ran a story about the cash, jewelry and other goodies that are often donated unintentionally to charities like The Salvation Army and Goodwill. Click here for a link to the article online.

They noted the story of a man who recently moved into a nursing home. A family member donated the personal effects that he no longer needed but didn’t realize that $40,000 was tucked in his clothes!

When something of value is discovered among other donated items, store staff will either solicit help from the police to identify the donor or try to contact the rightful owner through donor records. Sometimes when a special trinket or wad of cash is found inside another donation, if we don’t know who we got it from we’ll hold it in our safe in the hope that the donor calls us to get it back.

Cindy Engler, the Community Relations Director for our San Francisco area stores, told us that they often receive locked safes in donation. Once they’re opened our staff has discovered a lot of personal belongings including wills, deeds to property, car titles, cash, jewelry and coins.

Carved amethyst broochShe also told us that many of the jewelry boxes they receive in donation are full of jewelry. The pieces are not usually valuable, but sometimes the box comes from an estate where there is no family member to sort through the contents. In these cases, there’s often something of value inside. The fabulous carved amethyst brooch pictured above is one such item.

One of my favorite stories of an unintentionally donated treasure comes from The Salvation Army in Washington, D.C. Here’s the story in Ken Harrell’s own words (he’s the General Supervisor of our Family Stores in the D.C. area):

“We did a couch pick-up at a lady’s home one afternoon. Later, we got a call from her at which time she was frantic that her cat was missing and she was afraid that her pet was hiding in the same couch we picked up from her house.

She gave us a description of our new feline friend, but we could not find ‘Precious’ anywhere in the warehouse.

Three days later, Precious came waltzing out of the phone room announcing her presence with meows. We have no idea where she had been hiding all that time.

We called the owner who promptly picked up her little companion, with tears in her eyes and much appreciation. The owner was crying too.”

Now that the spring cleaning season is upon us, remember to check your pockets, purse, jewelry box, sofa cushions, and safe before making a donation to your favorite charity.

Remember that everything you give to or buy from a Salvation Army Family Store helps us care for people who need comprehensive, no-fee, residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

:: Click on or call 1 800 SA TRUCK for a Family Store location, Adult Rehabilitation Center or donation drop-off site.


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