The employee could have kept the money if she wanted to, but instead chose to return it to the rightful owner.
Andrea Lessing, a Goodwill employee, was doing her job and sorting through a pile of donations, in Norman, Oklahoma, when she found something hard and rectangular wrapped in two old sweaters. At first, Lessing wasn't sure what it was and assumed they were books. Upon closer inspection, she realized they were a stack of bills, with the total amount coming up to $42,000, per Fox 13.
"I never expected anything like this to happen to me of all people," she remarked. "To me, it was just another normal day at work. I was in the back sorting. I never expected to come across $42,000."
Not everyone would have returned the money, given how huge a sum there was. The pandemic has been hard on everyone, but according to KFOR, Lessing believes in karma, which is why she reported the lost cash. Goodwill was able to track down the owner thanks to some documentation that he'd done during the donation. The money was returned to its rightful owner.
Lessing also added that she would have never been able to keep the money to herself. "I made the right decision, and I did the right thing," Lessing said. Sure enough, karma was kind enough to Lessing for doing the "right thing."
The person to who the money belonged was moved by Lessing's honesty and decided to reward her for it. He instructed Goodwill to give her $1,000 for her integrity and character.
"I just want to say thank you because he was a blessing," Lessing said of the donor who rewarded her with the cash. "I thought I blessed him, but he turned right around and blessed me. He restored my faith that there are really good people out there even though this pandemic. We don’t know their situation so it’s better to just be kind."
A representative for Goodwill said that Lessing unearthed "the largest cash find reported for our Central Oklahoma Goodwill locations" in its 85-year-history. It is also one of the largest cash finds across any Goodwill store.
Jim Priest, JD, the CEO of Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma also commended the employee. He said, "The actions of Andrea and our Goodwill organization are real-life examples of one of our core values: integrity. Andrea showed integrity when she turned in the money and Goodwill showed its integrity as an organization by tracing the donors so we could return the money. Andrea could have kept the money and Goodwill could have kept the money, but integrity is doing the right thing and it's a core value we strive to live out every day."
However, the employee wasn't shocked by seeing such a huge amount, because she's seen a lot more. "Just from working here for about a month and a half, I’ve noticed that there are a lot of weird things that have been donated," Lessing said.
Lessing's already decided what she's going to do with the money she got as a reward. A Facebook post reveals that Andrea Lessing "plans to use some of that money to give her daughter a wonderful birthday."