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Fund for homeless man who returned money raises $111K

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 12:26 p.m. HST, Sep 19, 2013

BOSTON >> A fund for a homeless man who turned in a backpack with more than $40,000 inside has collected more than $100,000, an overwhelming response that's a "statement to everyone in America," said the man who started the donation drive.

Glen James flagged down a police officer on Saturday after he found the backpack containing $2,400 in cash and almost $40,000 in traveler's checks at the South Bay Mall. The man who lost it told workers at a nearby store, and they called police, who later returned it to him.

James, who once worked at a Boston courthouse, said even if he were desperate he wouldn't have kept "even a penny" of the money he found. Boston police honored James with a special citation on Monday.

A stranger from Midlothian, Va., Ethan Whittington, after reading media accounts of James' honesty, started a fund for him on the crowd-funding website gofundme.com. By late Thursday afternoon, almost $111,000 in donations had been made.

Whittington, an accounts manager for a marketing firm, said he's overwhelmed by the generosity of strangers.

"The fact that he's in the situation he is, being homeless, it blew my mind that he would do this (turn in the backpack)," Whittington said Wednesday.

"It's caught on like wildfire ever since," he said. "It's brought me a lot of hope. ... This isn't only about rewarding a great guy. I think it's a statement to everyone in America. If we come together and work toward one thing and work together, then we can make it happen."

Whittington said he's also encountered some skeptics who question whether his efforts to raise money for James could be a scam.

"It's almost kind of depressing, to do something for a great cause, and you've got the naysayers out there," he said. "I just wish there was some way I could 100 percent reassure everyone. I would be publicly humiliated if I scammed people now."

Whittington said he has spoken with James on the phone and hopes to travel to Boston soon to work out how the money will be distributed to him. He said his new fundraising goal for James is $250,000, up from the $50,000 he originally hoped to raise.

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awahana wrote:
This would never happen in Hawaii nei.
You can go to the beach and leave your slippers and purse on the beach towel and by the time you come back, it will be gone. Including the towel.
Mr. James should come to Hawaii. He has more aloha than most. He can teach us all again.
on September 19,2013 | 07:41AM
geralddeheer wrote:
If it were me, I would turn it to police. My guess is you would too. So, there are at least two of us who would who live here. Let's ask all the other SA readers...most would return it. There is more Aloha here than you think, I know several people who are just like Mr. James...and so do you. The glass is half full.
on September 19,2013 | 08:52AM
Im pretty sure I'd return it, although thoughts of VEGAS would surely enter my mind. In the end, too much on my mind if I DIDNT RETURN IT. Besides, the idea of knowing you did the right thing is a great reward.
on September 19,2013 | 10:39AM
Workingrl wrote:
Wonder how many would return if it were cash instead of traveler checks that can be traced and besides require a counter signature??
on September 19,2013 | 11:35AM
paniolo wrote:
So happy for Mr. James. Some people are just plain good and honest. He's homeless, down on his luck. He could've just took the backpack and not say a word. He saved the backpack's owner a lot of heartache. Good things will come to you in the future, Mr. James. Just wish there's more people like you out there.
on September 19,2013 | 08:06AM
on September 19,2013 | 10:40AM
localguy wrote:
Remember the time at the North Shore when a swimmer was in trouble in the ocean, a military man with his wife witnessed the problem, the man ran out, dived in and saved him. While this was going on some local low life took everything he left behind to avoid getting wet. Yes, lots of low lifes out there around the beaches and parking lots. Oh, loved the time the local low lifes were breaking in to cars at the Arizona Memorial Parking Lot and were busted. Boy were they surprised when HPD turned them over to the Feds for prosecution. Seems these baboozes failed to see the sign showing the parking lot was FEDERAL property. Tried, convicted, sent to federal prison, now owners of a federal rap sheet. Book em Dano!!!
on September 19,2013 | 08:53AM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
Although, as one poster stated, many would probably have absconded the backpack, I believe that many in Hawaii would do the same as the homeless man in this story even with $40,000 in funds. Sadly, though, as with anything there will be many who have no problems with stealing something especially with that amount. It is downright disheartening when you read about a person in a large white van going to a Goodwill collections station stealing donations meant for helping people get back on their feet. I see so much stealing even at the membership store where you see containers that have been opened and contents stolen. You cannot even leave your valuables on the sands at the beach because there is a high likelihood of them being stolen. But this homeless man's honesty despite his situation is a testament of the inherent goodness in people. Yes, many would just simply steal the money but many have the right thinking and morality. It is sad that our schools do not really teach morality or what is right and wrong. If they do, it is only in a small vein. Schools and parents need to teach their children right from wrong and it must be encouraged from the top down. Unfortunately, people equate right and wrong with religion which is not necessarily right. Right and wrong is within our spiritual compass and that is not necessarily a matter of religion. It is a matter of what we believe ourselves to be. You can see it in the way Notre Dame fans boo visiting football teams at their stadium. Just because many of them are religiously affiliated with Catholicism, it does not equate to a right moral compass. Maybe if one would to ask these fans, would Jesus do that , they would realize what they are doing. I would hope that I am not being naive to believe that most people would turn in the backpack just because I would do the same thing. If am being naive, this is a depressing world we live in.
on September 19,2013 | 09:56AM
juscasting wrote:
If it was $40K in cash I bet we wouldn't be reading this story?
on September 19,2013 | 11:43AM
sailfish1 wrote:
Now the poor guy has to deal with the IRS for the funds that were donated to him.
on September 19,2013 | 12:41PM
mamacita808 wrote:
I was just wondering about that...if he would be taxed for these donations.
on September 19,2013 | 01:46PM
medigogo wrote:
Just gift money. Not taxable unless real big amount. No worry.
on September 19,2013 | 02:00PM
RetiredWorking wrote:
IRT sailfish, yeah. Now he'll only have $60,000 that he never had before.
on September 19,2013 | 08:38PM
Rickyboy wrote:
Here comer the wolves. Maybe put it in a trust for him.
on September 19,2013 | 02:43PM
stingray65 wrote:
Our grand children visiting from Arkansas and left the backpack with diapers, a bottle of milk and baby's clothing was taken from the beach in North shore!! Why ? Of course the Military ID as well was taken. Of course, this is Hawaii. You can break in homes and the home owner cannot do anything. If you hurt the person breakin your house, the home owner will get arrested..
on September 19,2013 | 03:06PM
RetiredWorking wrote:
IRT stingray, where are you getting this info from?
on September 19,2013 | 08:39PM
RetiredWorking wrote:
IRT awahana, I guess you speak for yourself. I'd be tempted to keep it, but would give it back. My adult son would definitely return the $$. So awahana, I guess you do speak for yourself, not others.
on September 19,2013 | 08:42PM
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