Glen James, Homeless Man, Finds And Returns Backpack With $40K In It
Glen James became a local hero in Boston this weekend when he found a backpack filled with $2,400 in cash and almost $40,000 in travelers checks and, instead of deciding finders keepers, flagged down officers in an effort to return the money.
James’ story has been highly publicized in no small part due to this fact: James is currently homeless and could have easily taken the money he stumbled upon outside the South Bay plaza shopping mall. After the money was returned to its owner, a Chinese student who was positively identified by the passport also found in the backpack, James received a special citation from the Boston Police.
Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis presented James with the citation, saying that his actions were an “extraordinary show of character and honesty.”
In his police statement, James wrote that he was left unemployed after being fired from his job as a file clerk at a courthouse and moved to a shelter after his Meniere’s disease, an inner-ear affliction, prevented him to begin another job.
“The shelter is the perfect living situation with someone who has Meniere’s disease. There are many people in the shelter to attend to me,” James wrote.
In interviews following his good deed, James has said that he never even thought about keeping the money he found and said that he was “very glad to make sure” the money was returned. James also took the time to thank anyone who has ever given him a donation in his time panhandling.
James currently still resides at the homeless shelter, but that may soon change. A complete stranger in Virginia, Ethan Whittington, heard James’ story and was so moved by it, he set up a fundraising website via GoFundMe to thank James for his act of kindness. The site, launched Monday afternoon, with the mission statement: “Lets all chip in and help this man change his life. Every little donation helps. Lets be reassured that there is still hope and humanity in our great nation.”
The public response was immediate and overwhelming. When the page was created, the fundraising goal was reportedly set at $50,000. However, over the course of less than 48 hours, the fundraising goal has been raised to up to $250,000 due to the outporing of support from donors. In two days the page has raised $72,082 and received donations from 2,905 people, far exceeding Whittington’s original expectations.
Whittington has been updating the page, assuring contributors that the money will be going straight to James in a productive way. On Tuesday, Whittington wrote that he had spoken to James and that the two are currently working on a plan to determine what James needs and how to best use the money.
“We want to be very careful how this amount of money is handed over. He was up for the idea of having some guidance on what to do with this amount of money. He said he would like a week to think about it, and in the meantime, I will speak with a few financial folks to see how we can help him in a way that will positively influence the rest of his life. He loved the idea of a place to stay, some clothes, food, etc. we will continue to stay in touch as much as possible,” Whittington wrote on the webpage.
– Olivia Truffaut-Wong
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