The Boston homeless man who last weekend turned in a lost backpack containing nearly $42,000 in checks and cash was honored Monday with a special citation from police, just as an online fundraising campaign raised over $16,000 for his cause.
Glen James said in a written statement that he “would not have kept even a penny” of the $2,400 in cash and almost $40,000 in traveler’s checks he found last Saturday in a black backpack outside a TJ Maxx store in the Boston neighborhood of Dorchester.
James turned the backpack into police, who then returned it to the visiting Chinese student who had accidentally left the bag outside the store. The backpack also contained the student’s passport.
Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis thanked James for his “extraordinary show of character and honesty” during a news conference Monday. James declined to speak, choosing instead to issue a statement.
James, who did not give his age, said in his statement that he is from Boston and has been homeless since 2005 after losing his job as a file clerk in the Boston municipal court system, according to The Associated Press. He said he relies on food stamps and panhandling to get by.
“It’s just nice to have some money in one’s pocket so that as a homeless man I don’t feel absolutely broke all the time,” he said of the generosity of others.
James’ fortunes will likely change, thanks to the publicity his good deed has received. Just hours after his identity was made public, an online fundraising campaign was started by Ethan Whittington, a complete stranger.
Whittington’s page for James on the GoFundMe.com website raised over $55,000 for James in just one day.
“I want to put a message out there that the sky is the limit as far as people helping other people,” said Whittington, who has spoken to James by phone.
Whittington’s message is reaching others, including a family whose young kids donated $183 of their chore money to James’ cause.
“I wanted to give him a house but that was too much so I decided to give him money instead,” said one of the siblings.