A few months ago, a trio of New Paltz, New York, roommates (one SUNY student and two recent graduates) purchased an unremarkable-looking $20 couch at the local Salvation Army, as young people with naps to take and pizza to eat do. Recently, one of the fold-out’s owners, Reese Werkhoven, decided to finally figure out why the thing was so lumpy. “There’s a zipper on the bottom, and he pulled out a bag, and we said it’s either drugs or money, and we freak out and it’s a stack of hundreds and fifties,” roommate Lara Russo told the SUNY New Paltz blog Little Rebellion. A frenzied but thorough inspection of the couch turned up “envelope after envelope filled with cash,” totaling around $40,000.
Though Werkhoven, Russo, and Cally Guasti all had things they wanted to do with the cash (pay off student loans, go on “an epic road trip around the United States,” etc.), they noticed that a name was written on one of the envelopes. With the help of a phone book (Werkhoven’s mom helped), they tracked down the couch’s previous owner, a 91-year-old widow who “doesn’t trust banks.” The woman told the kids that she stashed the money in the fold-out over the course of 30 years, only to have her daughter (who didn’t know what the piece of furniture was worth) donate it while she was recovering from back surgery. She also gave them $1,000 to split as a reward, which is more than most people get out of their crappy thrift store couch.