Student’s Dream Come True – $40K Stuffed Inside an Old Couch

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By: Riley Brown | Published: Feb 07, 2023

You’ve seen students scrounging for discarded furniture. Even if it’s an old beat-up chair, they’ll carry it back to their apartments. Once it’s theirs, they feel like they’ve won the jackpot – a free chair!  

Source: thedenverchannel.com

But this student really did win the jackpot. And then he had to decide what to do with it. Keep reading to find out the rest of the story.

Buddies Starting their New Life

Reese Werkhoven, Cally Guasti, and Lara Russo had graduated and decided to live together to save money. They were now ready to start their adult life and couldn’t wait to find a place to settle down.

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Source: SUNY New Paltz

They were living in New Paltz, New York, a nice quiet area with the university nearby. The first step was to find an apartment that they’d all feel comfortable in. Then, they would start furnishing it. There wasn’t much money between them, but they’d figure it out.

Thrift Shopping

The trio of apartment-mates needed to fill their apartment with some decent furniture. They first took careful measurements and decided exactly what they were looking for. Due to their limited budget, their first stop was a thrift store.

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Source: reddit.com

The Salvation Army store they visited had some very nice pieces, and they were having fun looking around. All of them eyed one couch that was a bit shabby but seemed really comfortable and was just the right size. After sitting in it, they decided it would do.

Not Quite what They Had in Mind

The couch was the right size, even though it was not the quality piece of furniture that they were hoping for. However, for $20 they figured they had found quite a deal, and they were a little desperate.

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Source: YouTube/Associated Press

The sale was completed, and they discussed how to deal with the shabbiness factor when they got it home. It was quite beaten up, so they decided to cover it with a blanket to hide the worst parts. They had no idea, however, what they were about to find inside that $20 piece of furniture.

Lumpy and Bumpy

Sitting on the couch proved to be an awkward experience. The pillows were very lumpy in places, and it was hard to find a comfortable spot. Assuming that there was old stuffing inside, they just made do with it the best they could.

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Source: YouTube/Associated Press

After about a month of shifting around on the lumpy couch, Reese became frustrated. Even if they had only spent $20, they at least wanted to have a comfortable place to sit. So he took his fist and gave it a hearty punch.

There was a popping sound.

OMG What’s Inside This Thing?

Well, the sofa was ruined, and Reese was to blame. But neither of the other roommates could fault him; they had all complained about the lumpy couch ever since they bought it. When they heard the popping sound, though, they all gasped.

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Source: YouTube/Associated Press

They had to find out what was inside, so they unzipped the pillow cover. To their amazement, there were rolls and rolls of bubble wrap. Wow, they thought, someone filled these pillows with bubble wrap, no wonder it was so lumpy!  Then they ripped one of the bubble-wrapped sections open. OMG!

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MONEY!

The roommates stood in stunned silence. Inside the packages of bubble wrap was cash, stacks of 50 and 100 dollar bills. Their faces dropped as they each bent down to touch the money. It was real, all right, and there was a lot of it.

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Source: YouTube/Associated Press

They kept pulling out stacks of bills – over $40,000 was piled up in front of them. Their first reaction was to jump for joy – this kind of thing only happens in the movies! Then Cally reached in to pull out more money, but instead, she pulled out something that changed everything.

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It’s Not Ours

The roommates were chattering to each other, each one figuring out how to spend the money – paying off school loans, buying a car, or helping out their parents. They were listing idea after idea about their plans for this windfall they had received.

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Source: YouTube/Associated Press

Then Cally pulled out something else, and it was not anything the three expected. It was a bank deposit slip. And not only that – it had a name on it. This money belonged to someone; it was the proverbial money in the mattress. They knew what they had to do.

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Plan B

They looked at each other, recognizing that they had a big dilemma on their hands. As much as they had dreamed of having cash fall into their laps, they could not take money away from someone else.

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Source: YouTube/Associated Press

The bank deposit slip had a phone number on it, so they called and confirmed the customer’s name. They were sure the money they’d come across accidentally had belonged to this person. But maybe it was cash that had been earned illegally?  They had to find out.

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Finding the Owner

Reese decided to find the owner’s phone number. Then came the phone call.  None of them knew what to expect. Would it be someone relieved and grateful, a criminal who would be angry at them, or maybe someone who didn’t even remember the money had been in the couch? 

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Source: YouTube/Associated Press

Someone answered the phone and said “Yes?” in a cranky voice. Reese asked if the person had sold or given away a couch recently. When they heard the answer, they realized they now had even bigger problems.

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Yes! It’s Mine!

Indeed, the couch belonged to this non-too-friendly person on the other end of the phone. The roommates asked for the person’s address in order to deliver the couch to them. 

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Source: Christiesrealestate.com

So the three piled into the car and drove all the way to Hudson Valley. During the trip, they debated how to handle the situation. What if the people were violent? How would they handle that? They were pretty certain they were not getting a reward from these folks.

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Meeting the Owner

The three roommates pulled up to a rather rundown home in a little town. It was a sad, small house that clearly needed a lot of work. Suddenly they felt sad that they had even considered keeping the money.

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Source: trulia.com

As soon as they pulled up, two women ran out of the house, all smiles and gratitude. There was a lot of hugging and thank-yous, none of which the three roommates had expected. The two women were the daughter and granddaughter of the original owner. Now it was time for answers.

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Life Savings

They all sat down in the small living room and waited to hear the story. The daughter of the owner began by explaining that her mom and dad knew that her dad was about to die. At that point, her mom decided to put away some money each month for savings.

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Source: YouTube/Associated Press

Her mom knew she’d need extra money when her husband died, and wanted to make sure she had a nest egg.  At this point in the story, the daughter started to cry. Through her tears, she explained that after her dad died, her mom had gone into the hospital with heart problems.

 

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A Surprise for Mom?

The daughter continued, still tearing up, saying that while her mom was in the hospital, she wanted to fix up her mom and dad’s living room as a surprise. She imagined how thrilled her mom would be to see brand-new furniture when she came home.

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Source: patch.com

One task of the renovation was to throw out the old furniture. Yes, that included the sofa stuffed with money. The daughter had absolutely no idea, of course, that it was anything but an old lumpy sofa. At that point in the telling of the story, someone else came in to join the conversation.

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It’s Back!

It was the grandmother who came in to join the discussion. She took one glance at the pile of money, and burst into tears. She thought she’d never see that money again, and while she had forgiven her daughter for the mistake, she’d been devastated.

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Source: YouTube/Public Domain

The elderly woman embraced the three roommates and could not stop thanking them for their efforts to return the money to the rightful owner. She even gave them each one thousand dollars as a thank you. At that moment, the three friends knew they’d done the right thing.

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