A homeless man is being praised for his integrity after turning in a bag filled with $17,000 cash he found outside a food bank last summer.
Kevin Booth, 32, had been rummaging in packages outside the Sumner Food Bank in Washington, hoping to find bread the organization often leaves outside for people to take, when he came across the brown bag filled with $20 and $100 bills.
“At first, I was like, 'What the heck is that lying on the ground?'” Booth said in an interview with the News Tribune. “Of course, I sniffed it to see if it was real. Then I was like, 'Do I take off or do I stay?'”
Booth, who has been visiting the food bank for years, eventually decided to wait outside the food bank until they opened, and turned the bag over to the volunteer who let him in.
“There are a lot of people who would have taken it,” Booth explained. “I’m just not that person.”
He told the volunteer that it was for them, and someone had left it on their doorstep, according to the Washington Post.
The volunteer had assumed it was a food donation and went to weigh it when he realized it was actually stacks of cash.
The food bank called the police, who opened an investigation to determine where the money came from. The food bank’s security camera was not working at the time, and authorities were not able to find any robberies in the area or anyone who may have withdrawn a large amount of cash.
After the required 90 days had passed with no one claiming the cash, authorities handed it over to the Sumner Community Food Bank in a ceremony that also celebrated Booth’s honesty.
“He said, 'That was a real big decision for me, but if it's not yours, you shouldn't be taking it,'” director of the Sumner Food Bank Anita Miller told the Post. “He's a very honest man.”
Police Chief Brad Moericke, who presented the honor to Booth, agreed.
“Not every citizen would be as honest as you in this situation,” Moericke said, according to the News Tribune.
As a reward for turning the money in, the food bank will gift him various gift cards in lieu of cash, and get him coats and shoes so he’ll be more comfortable through the winter. Booth lives in a tent in the nearby woods, and “will not take a room and board, he turns down inside living,” according to Miller.
Miller explained the extra cash will go toward expanding the food bank, and paying for a walk-in refrigerator and freezer for the facility.