“I Almost Peed! The Most Money I’d Ever Found in a Couch was like 50 Cents. Honestly, I’d be Ecstatic to Find Just $5 in a Couch”

SUNY [State University of New York] at New Paltz student Reese Werkhoven and roommates Cally Guasti and Lara Russo bought an Salvation Army couch for $20. Ms. Russo said, “We almost didn’t pick that couch. It’s pretty ugly and smells, but it was the only couch that fit the right dimensions for our living room.” In March 2014, while trying pout the couch for the first time Mr. Werkhoven discovered hidden in it a plastic envelope with $700. He said, “I almost peed! The most money I’d ever found in a couch was like 50 cents. Honestly, I’d be ecstatic to find just $5 in a couch.” He and his two friends then searched the couch thoroughly and found more plastic envelopes filled with money — approximately $40,000 in all. Cally Guasti said, “Just when we thought we pulled out the last envelope, we’d find another $1,000 a few minutes later.” Ms. Russo also discovered the name of a woman written on one of the envelopes. Ms. Russo said, “We had a lot of moral discussions about the money. We all agreed that we had to bring the money back to whoever it belonged to … it’s their money — we didn’t earn it. However, there were a lot of gray areas we had to consider.” They asked their parents for advice. Ms. Russo said, “My mom said that I have a good moral compass, and if I don’t think that someone is a good person, or deserving of the money, then I’m not obligated to give it to them. This really threw me off. Where do you draw the line? It’s all very subjective.” Mr. Werkhoven telephoned the woman, who immediately said, “Oh, I left a lot of money in that couch!” The trio then drove to the woman’s home in Hudson Valley, where they met her and her daughter. The woman explained how the couch had ended up in the Salvation Army. Before her husband died of heart problems, he gave her money each week to save. She hid it in the couch. After he died, she continued to save money and hide it in the couch. After she had a heart operation of her own, she went into rehab. While she was at the rehab facility, her daughter sold the couch, which eventually ended up at the Salvation Army. She gave the three $1,000 as a reward. Cally Guasti said, “When we handed the money back to the woman, she told us that she felt like her husband was present in the room with us.” Mr. Werkhoven said about the woman and her daughter, “I could just tell right away that these were nice people.”

For More Information: “New Paltz Students Find $40K in a Couch.” The Little Rebellion. 12 May 2014


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