ZANESVILLE, Ohio — An associate at Goodwill Industries thought she had found a duffel bag full of play money last week while sorting a box of housewares. On closer inspection, employees realized the money was real — and there was a lot of it.
Nearly $100,000 in hundred dollar bills was accidentally donated when a woman dropped off a box of clothes at the Maple Avenue Goodwill store.
"The money was found in a duffle bag that was in a box full of clothes," said Janelle Schaffer, a store manager at Goodwill on Maple Avenue. "Thank goodness she asked for a receipt when the lady dropped the donation off so we had her contact information."
Schaffer said in addition to the large amount of cash, a last will and testament as well as some other legal documents was located in the duffle bag.
Betsy Lyons and Barb Claypool were sorting through a large box of housewares when Claypool opened the bag.
"I just laughed and said, 'Look at all my money I found,'" Claypool said. "I thought it was play money. Then Betsy came over and said we needed to take that to the office."
Lyons, who has worked at Goodwill for eight years, said she too thought the money was fake at first — at the very least counterfeit.
"When I realized the money wasn't fake it was kind of scary," Lyons said. "I thought what if someone comes back looking for it."
Schaffer said she immediately began calling the number left by the donor. After repeated attempts failed, she contacted the police department.
Schaffer finally made contact with the donor, Lynette Leckrone of Lewisville, who was unaware the money was missing.
Dan Leckrone, husband of the donor, said he had withdrawn the money from the bank and put the it in the trunk of the car where he thought no one would find it.
"We are moving closer to Wheeling and we have been saving to buy a house," Leckrone said. "We were taking the money to deposit it in another bank where we were moving to. We had our trunk full of clothes and things we wanted to get rid of but we don't have a Goodwill near where we live so we took the things to Zanesville where we have family.
Leckrone said he and his wife didn't know the money — $97,004 to be exact — was missing until they got home and started listening to all of the calls on their answering machine.
"We picked the money up at the police department and took it straight to the bank," Leckrone said. "We are so thankful to everyone that we got our money back."
Michelle Cogswell, central manager, said something like this has never happened in the 18 years she has worked for Goodwill Industries.
"We find the occasional $100 bill or $50 bill but that's about the most that is found," Cogswell said. "When I heard they found $100,000, I thought they meant $1,000."
Goodwill Industries is a non-profit organization that provides job training, employment placement services and other community-based programs for people who have barriers preventing them from otherwise obtaining a job, according to Cogswell.
Used clothing, furniture, appliances and housewares are donated to Goodwill internationally and sold in retail stores across the globe.
"Since October we have found about $1,200, mostly in change in pockets and purses, etcetera," Cogswell said. "So that kind of puts it in perspective how big this is."
Schaffer said she was still a little shocked by the incident, but not surprised by the actions of Lyons and Claypool.
"We have some honest, loyal employees," Schaffer said. "I'm very proud of them."