When most people go through their couch cushions, the most commonly found items are a remote control, some crumbs, and somewhere around 50 cents if you’re lucky. Well for three college students in New Paltz, NY, the lucky find turned into a $40,000 discovery as they dug through the cushions of their $20 Salvation Army purchase.
According to the digital publication The Little Rebellion, SUNY New Paltz graduate Lara Russo, Mount Holyoke College graduate Cally Guasti, and third-year geology student Reese Werkhoven had just brought back their used couch from the Salvation Army when Werkhoven noticed an object in the cushions. As he pulled out a plastic envelope, he found a stack of $20 dollar bills totaling $700.
“I almost peed,” Werkhoven told The Little Rebellion after finding the money in the couch.
“The most money I’d ever found in a couch was like fifty cents. Honestly, I’d be ecstatic to find just $5 in a couch.”
The group decided that they should keep looking to see if there was more money hidden within the cushions. They began pulling out envelope after envelope full of cash.
“Just when we thought we pulled out the last envelope we’d find another $1,000 a few minutes later,” said Guasti.
After roughly 20 minutes had passed, they had finally determined that there were no more envelopes to be found.
After adding it all up, they had found $40,000 buried within the cushions of their $20 couch.
As the excitement subdued, they faced the moral dilemma of what to do with money as it appeared that one of the envelopes had a name written across the front.
“We had a lot of moral discussions about the money,” said Russo.
“We all agreed that we had to bring the money back to whoever it belonged to… it’s their money– we didn’t earn it. However, there were a lot of gray areas we had to consider.”
According to The Blaze, Reese received a call from his mother the next day telling him that she had located the name of the woman in the phonebook. After giving her a call, Werkhoven asked her name and told her that he had just bought a couch from Salvation Army.
“Oh, I left a lot of money in that couch,” the woman replied immediately.
Successfully finding the owner of the money, the trio began driving to her home. Along the way, they pulled over to have one more moral discussion regarding the large sum of cash.
“About halfway to her house we stopped the car and had a serious discussion…what if she’s a really bad person? What can we do at this point if we meet her and decide we don’t want to give her the money?” they asked.
Pulling up to the rugged home in a rough neighborhood, their fears were put to rest as they were greeted by the woman’s daughter and grand-daughter.
“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.”
Thankful for the money, the unidentified woman went on to tell the students that her husband had been giving her money to save for years as he had a heart condition that would not allow him to care for her much longer. After he passed, the woman continued working at a florist shop and had been stashing her money within the couch cushions the entire time.
After the woman faced a back surgery from an injury, her daughter replaced the couch with a bed at the suggestion of her doctor. When the woman returned home from the hospital, she found her couch and cash savings had been donated to the Salvation Army.
Luckily for her, the money fell into the hands of these three honest students and found its way back to the woman.
“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.”
The students were rewarded with $1000, along with a crazy story to tell for the rest of their lives.