Columbia Goodwill employee finds cash in clothing

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Goodwill location announced Wednesday the most valuable article of clothing in some time showed up at the thrift store Jan. 17 and it was not the brand that determined its worth. While sorting through donated clothes, an employee found $480 inside one winter item.

The employee, who asked to remain unnamed, found the money and immediately reported it to the managers.

"The employee didn't hesitate to bring it to me," Denise Lacy, lead manager at Columbia Goodwill, said. "The employee was very quick in response."

Goodwill is calling it an "accidental donation." The store is still searching for the person who donated the clothing. As the article was in the storage room, the store's managers believe the item was donated in the last week.

Lacy said they would not release information about the clothing item to lessen fraud phone calls claiming the item.

"We don't give out too much detail because we want the person that's trying to claim the money, that's rightfully theirs, to be as detailed as much as possible," Lacy said.

When someone calls with a matching description, Goodwill will review the tapes to see if the caller donated within the time frame.

The store has already received phone calls from people asking if the money was in various items.

If no one claims the money within 30 days, Goodwill will donate it toward community programs that help serve individuals with severe disabilities, a Veteran Success Program and an autism employment center.

Even with the possible community benefits, the manager said she hopes Goodwill can find the rightful owner as they may truly need the money.

"I'm just thankful that our processor was honest and she brought it to our attention so that hopefully we can find the rightful owner," Lacy said. "Maybe it's a family that desperately needs the money."

Employees, like the one who discovered the money, are called processors. Lacy said Columbia's Goodwill generally has four processors working at a time. Each processor has to search through approximately 500 items of clothing per day to make sure they are suitable for sale.

One employee said finding that sum of cash is like finding a needle in a haystack.

The store's assistant manager said this is the sixth time in eight years the store found a large accidental cash donation.

In previous instances Goodwill found the donor and returned the cash. But many times the donor turned around and gave a portion of that money back in the form of a donation.

As a reward for turning in the cash, the employee will receive a $25 gift card to the location of their choosing.