NORMAN, Okla. — Andrea Lessing had seen a lot of unique donations in her time as an Oklahoma Goodwill employee, but none nearly as valuable as $42,000 in cash.
Lessing had been sorting through a pile of donations at a Norman Goodwill location when she felt something odd between two sweaters. As she unwrapped the sweaters, she found that what she suspected to be books were in fact stacks of cash.
"My first thought was that it was fake. We've seen $5 and $20 donated here and there, but never in my life had I seen that much money," Lessing said in an interview.
Lessing didn't think twice about whether or not to report the money, and with the help of some documentation of the donation, Goodwill was able to track down the money's owner.
Lessing has a 6-year-old daughter, and she said it was important for her daughter to see the importance of honesty.
"With every decision I make, I have to think about whether I would want my daughter to follow in my footsteps," Lessing said. "I want her to know that kindness, integrity and honesty can get you a lot of places in life."
Her good deed was rewarded: The owner of the lost cash instructed Goodwill to give Lessing $1,000 of the money. Lessing said the owner's generosity "lifted a huge burden" off her shoulders.
"Because of everything that's been going on within the past year and a half, it just meant more than anyone could imagine," Lessing said. "I didn't return the money expecting a reward or expecting to be on the news, I just believe if you do something good, it will come back to you eventually. And it did."
Goodwill was also impressed with Lessing's integrity, saying it is one of the values they seek to uphold as a company.
"Andrea showed integrity when she turned in the money and Goodwill showed its integrity as an organization by tracing the donors so we could return the money," wrote CEO of Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma Jim Priest in a statement to CNN. "Andrea could have kept the money and Goodwill could have kept the money, but integrity is doing the right thing and it's a core value we strive to live out every day."
According to a Goodwill representative, the cash find is the largest amount found in any donation at an Oklahoma Goodwill in its 85-year history and is one of the largest cash finds at any Goodwill location internationally.
"I never expected to come across $42,000. I made the right decision, and I did the right thing," Lessing said in a statement. "I have to know where I sit with myself as a person and I feel like I make the right decision in doing the right thing."
How to sort, sell and donate clothes you don't need
Time for some organizing? Here are a few tips on how to sort, store, resell, donate and give away what you're not wearing.
How to sort, sell and donate clothes you don't need
How to sort your clothes now
This is an excellent time to re-evaluate all of your clothes, says Joey Clark, owner of Center City boutique and closet editing service, Kin Boutique. Sort your clothes into three categories: Keep. Maybe. Give Away.
Ask yourself: Do I love it? Does it still fit? Does it make me feel good?
If it’s yes to all three questions, keep it. If it’s yes to two questions, maybe. If it’s yes to one question, give it away.
Separate your summer and winter pieces. “The only things you should have in your closet are the items you are wearing that season,” Clark said. “Otherwise you are wasting real estate.”
(Pro-tip: If those jeans don’t fit anymore, get rid of them.)
Find your new style
“This is a great time to get introspective about your own personal style and what works for you,” says Clare Sauro, director of Drexel University’s Robert and Penny Fox Historic Costume Collection. “One of the things we’ve learned during this time is what we can do without.”
Study the items you are keeping. What do they have in common? Do you like printed blouses? Are you in love with the sheath silhouette? Make these items the core of your wardrobe and build a capsule collection around them, says Sauro. This means that everything new you buy should match back to these items.
Give away. Resell. Donate
Once you’ve decided what you are are willing to part with, separate these clothes into three piles: give away, resell or donate.
Give away: If that red checkered shirt no longer fits and your best friend has eyed it for years, give it to her. Who knows, perhaps she’s willing to trade her gray, long-sleeved T-shirt dress for it. Think about setting up a Zoom clothing swap with your friends. But before you make the contactless trade, thoroughly wash the clothes.
Resell it: Consignment shops, either brick and mortar or online boutiques that offer you a percentage of sales for the clothing they sell for you, are hit and miss these days. So call in advance to find out if they are taking clothes and what their coronavirus policies are. Other questions to ask: What kinds of clothes they take, what condition they should be in, and what season they’re currently looking for. And be prepared to wait it out.
Donate it: It’s also a good idea to call donation centers first. The need remains great, but because of COVID-19, many have changed their open hours or drop-off processes.
How to store what you're not wearing
Now that you’ve pared down your wardrobe, it’s time to store what you want to keep but aren’t wearing right now. Look for a cool, dry place to store your clothes. Here are some other tips:
Examine everything. Replace missing buttons. Repair holes. And most importantly, Sauro said, make sure your pieces are clean and pressed. “The black suit jacket you thought you’d get another wear out back in March before COVID hit probably needs to be washed now,” Sauro said. “Not to mention, dirty clothes attract insects.”
Use the right hangers. Plastic and wire hangers often leave indentations in clothing, especially sweaters. Pro-tip: It’s better to fold and stack your sweaters. For clothes you need to hang, use hangers covered in soft fabrics like velvet, Sauro says, because the grip ensures the clothes stay in place. And make sure the hangers are the right size, when hanging blouses or blazers. They should fit the width of the shoulder. “If you are trying to put a petite-shouldered jacket on a wide hanger, the hanger will distort the jacket and create a problem,” Sauro said.
Use garment bags: You definitely want to store your most special pieces — cocktail dresses, business suits and ball gowns — in woven garment bags, says Brian Lipstein, owner of Center City-based specialty menswear brand Henry A. Davidsen. An opaque fabric will keep the ultraviolet light off clothing and help to prevent fading. Pro-tip: A light-hued bag won’t bleed on your pastel gowns or leave dark lint balls on your dresses, Sauro says.
If you are storing more than one item in a garment bag, separate each piece with acid-free tissue paper — available at Staples or the Container Store. Acid-free tissue paper will let your garments breathe and prevent discoloration, Sauro says.
Use cedar, not mothballs. To keep moths and moisture out of your wool suits and silk gowns, place cedar chips through your closet, Lipstein says. Their scent is more pleasant than mothballs and less toxic. Pro-tip: If you use cedar chips, Sauro said, keep your wools away from linens because cedar can accelerate the yellowing of your white cotton garments.
More tips for extra special pieces
Turn chiffon dresses inside out to avoid snags. Store beaded dresses in their own garment bags so the beads don’t snag on other clothes or each other. Wrap your cotton shirts in acid-free paper. It keeps yellowing at bay and helps maintains vibrant hues.
Use a shoe tree. “Simply keeping shoe trees in your shoe can double the life of the sole,” Lipstein said.
Stuff pumps with acid-free tissue paper. “It will help keep the toe box from collapsing on itself,” Sauro said. Keep handbags in their original dust bags and stuff them with acid-free tissue paper to help them keep their shape. If you don’t have the original box, a storage container will do
Place hats in hatboxes — again, a storage container will do — and also stuff them with acid-free tissue paper to keep their shape.
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