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80-Year-Old Says He Accidentally Left His Life Savings In Donated Suit

This is a pretty heartbreaking story: An 80-year-old man donated a suit to a Goodwill store in western Illinois. The problem is that he didn't realize until it was too late that his $13,000 life savings were in the suit's pocket.

The AP reports:

The 80-year-old man notified Goodwill of the Heartland last week of his mistake, said Dana Engelbert, vice president of marketing for the charity. Engelbert said the man's wife has cancer and they had been using the money to offset her medical expenses.

"It's his life savings and he's in a difficult situation right now," Engelbert told The Associated Press Wednesday.

She said the gray suit was donated to a store in Moline. It may have been sold at the store, or could have been sent with other clothing to a regional Goodwill warehouse in Iowa City, where non-seasonal items are sent for storage, she said.

Goodwill did not release the man's name because he was too embarrassed. Goodwill employees, adds the AP, were going through clothes that had been donated since October. They've had no luck finding the money.

The Quad Cities' WQAD, which first broke the story, said after the story aired it's been flooded with offers for help. But last night, the man's daughter said he welcomes the kindness but will not take any donations.

The daughter sent WQAD this statement:

"Our family would like to thank each and every one of you that have come forward wanting to make a donation to my father for the money he has lost. We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of generosity from around the world. My father's wishes are to respectfully decline any donations of any kind. He only wanted someone to come forward with the money he gave away in error. God bless all of you. Sincerely, Our Family."

In WQAD's original report, the daughter told the station when the man realized he had left the money in suit pocket, he broke down crying. The man, reports WQAD, grew up during the Depression, so he stuffed the money in the suit because he doesn't trust banks.

Here is WQAD's original report:

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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