"This is a pretty heartbreaking story," says Eyder Peralta at NPR News. Sometime between the last week of October and Thanksgiving, an 80-year-old Moline, Ill., man donated a grey suit to Goodwill — leaving in the pocket his life savings, $13,000. Adding to the tragedy, the money was earmarked for medical expenses for the man's wife, who is fighting stage 4 cancer. The man has asked that his name not be released, because he is embarrassed. Here's what you should know:
Why did the man have his life savings in his pocket?
The man grew up during the Great Depression and reportedly doesn't trust banks.
What is Goodwill doing to help?
As soon as the man realized what he'd done, his family and Goodwill employees scoured the store for the suit. Goodwill is still "sorting through the donations that came in at the time," both in Moline and at the regional warehouse in Iowa City, Iowa, says Goodwill spokeswoman Dana Engelbert. "We're hoping it's still there and we can find it." In case somebody already bought the suit, the man's family is offering a $1,000 reward, no questions asked.
Shouldn't finding this suit be easy?
It's actually harder than you might think. Goodwill gets 36 million pounds of donations in the Quad Cities region, which includes Moline, says Engelbert. "It's safe to say we've searched thousands of pounds." She says people have accidentally donated things before — cash, prized baby blankets, priceless art — but this is the largest unintentional donation she's seen in her three years with Goodwill.
Is there anything redeeming about this disaster?
Local TV station WQAD, which first reported the story, has received donation offers for the man from as far away as Russia and Germany. The family has turned such offers down. "We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of generosity from around the world," said the daughter in a statement. But really, my father "only wanted someone to come forward with the money he gave away in error."