Share this story...
sumner homeless
Latest News

Sumner homeless man returns $17,000 in cash: Should we be surprised?

(File, Associated Press)

As if to kick off the warm spirit of the holiday season on cue, a homeless man found a brown paper bag at the Sumner Food Bank a few months ago, and of course, it held $17,000 in cash, like most brown paper bags.

But Kevin Booth didn’t know there was $17,000 at first. He initially peered inside and pulled out a $20, and decided to not keep it and turn the bag over to the food bank, without realizing how much more money was inside, reported The News Tribune.

“Here’s a question: The food bank’s director says this restores her faith in humanity. I am always shocked that we act like it’s a big deal when somebody does something honest,” said KIRO Radio’s John Curley. “So what they’re saying is that they have a fairly negative view of their fellow human beings.”

When the food bank realized what was inside, they called the police, who checked surveillance video and held the cash for 90 days. No owner was determined, and Booth was stunned to hear what was in his grasp.

For KIRO Radio’s Tom Tangney, these are precisely the type of stories people need to hear about, especially his co-host, Curley.

RELATED: Seattle City Council debates erecting giant tents for the homeless

“You normally don’t believe these kinds of stories,” he said. “You’re the kind of person these kind of stories need to hit at, because you think anybody, rich or poor, would be out to screw the system and screw the man and keep the money.”

But Curley noted a distinction here, citing a recent study in which wallets were dropped in rich and poor neighborhoods throughout the country, and an equal amount of wallets were returned from both the rich and poor areas, some of which were found by homeless people.

People are against the system, not each other

“There’s a difference. Yeah, people are out to mess with the system, because the system sucks. But people are not out to mess with each other,” Curley said. “That wallet is a individual human being’s wallet. It’s leather, it’s been touched by that person, it has pictures of their family in it, it’s human-to-human contact.”

“But not the system, the faceless, nameless, bureaucrat which takes their money, the government themselves–they will beat that every time if they’re given the opportunity… that’s why you want less and less government involved in people’s personal lives. If you make people respond to one another, they are more likely to do the right thing than they will with a system,” he added.

The food bank will get to keep the money, but did leave some of it to Booth, though not directly as cash. That part rubbed Tom the wrong way.

“The person with the food bank gave Booth some of the money,” Tom said. “But gave it in gift cards as the reward to him, which seems to me a little controlling, rather than just giving him some cash. But I think I understand why.”

“Because maybe if you gave it to him he would end up using it to pay off his college loans or something like that,” Curley joked.

A Sumner resident started a GoFundme for Booth here.

Most Popular