There was something hard inside. She opened each zip and checked the bag, it was empty. But she could still feel something through the lining of the handbag. “That’s strange,” she thought.
Her curiosity got the better of her and she decided to take another look. She ran her fingers along the inside of the lining, aha! There was a hole at the end. She managed to squeeze her finger inside. She felt something cold and metallic.
Sarah Thomas, an Oregon resident, loved nothing more than a good bargain. Whenever she passed a Goodwill store or charity shop, she just couldn’t help herself. She trawled the dusty shelves and boxes for anything that looked unusual or interesting, and she usually found it.
In fact, Sarah had such a keen eye for vintage treasure that she started her own clothing resale business online. She thought she had seen it all in all her years of bargain hunting, but she was wrong.
More Than A Hobby
Her Facebook business page — Sarah’s Southern Oregon 2nd Hand Deals — proved to be so successful that it started generating a steady stream of supplemental income. She worked hard, traveling to the local Goodwill stores several times a week to find that special item.
Some days were good, and she’d snag designer dresses, shoes, and handbags for just a few dollars. But other days weren’t as easy.
More Than Meets The Eye
Sometimes, upon further inspection, Sarah’s Goodwill finds would be worn or damaged, making them unfit for resale.
And occasionally, there would be more to an object than met the eye at first glance. Such was the case when Sarah spotted a designer diaper bag for just $3 — and she knew she had to have it.
The diaper bag was not only a designer label, but it was also vintage. Even better, it looked practically new — a rare find indeed. Sarah knew that this diaper bag would have retailed at around $200 new… what a bargain!
She immediately snatched it up and bought it without a moment’s hesitation. But it was only when she had already arrived home with her new purchase that she noticed something strange about it.
What Could It Be?
“I was cleaning it and just noticed something heavy shaking around in there,” Sarah explained. But when she rummaged through all the bag’s compartments, she still couldn’t locate the mysterious object. Unwelcome thoughts started to race through her mind.
Who knows what the bag’s previous owner had hidden there… And why had they gotten rid of it? Could there be something nasty inside?
Sarah’s concerns were growing by the second. Maybe she should just return the bag and leave it at that. After all, it was a second-hand diaper bag. But, in the end, her gnawing curiosity was just too much to bear.
That’s when she noticed the small hole in the lining. Little did she know, she was about to solve a 7-year-old mystery.
A Flash Of Silver
She peeked into the opening and saw a flash of silver, and her heart started to race. She began to widen the hole, stretching it so that it could accommodate her hand. Had she found trash or treasure? There was only one way to find out.
Slowly, carefully, she worked at it until it was big enough to reach inside. “Here goes…” she whispered, preparing herself.
The Mysterious Object
Sarah winced as her hand brushed something cold and hard, but she was relieved to realize that it wasn’t wet. It was smooth, and it felt like metal.
She pulled it out slowly and was astonished to find a brand-new Sony digital camera in her hand. Now that she had found out what it was, she was left with more questions. Who did it belong to? And why was it hidden here?
Sarah located the ‘ON’ switch and held her breath. After a few seconds, the camera beeped to life. She was so surprised that she jumped. Then, the images began to display on the camera’s screen.
Although Sarah was reluctant to scroll through someone’s personal and secret memories, she continued to look at the photos one by one, unable to tear her eyes away.
A Sinking Feeling
The photos depicted a baby boy and a young woman. Sarah assumed it was his mother. With each new picture, Sarah’s heart sank more and more.
Photograph after photograph flashed before her eyes, but long before she had reached the end, she knew that something had to be done. But what? And more importantly, how?
When asked if she had any hesitation before acting, Sarah said: “I live by the golden rule. I would hate someone to do that to me.”
Sarah’s mind was made up. Looking through the photographs was enough to make her take action, and she knew in her heart that she had made the right decision.
As a mother herself, Sarah knew that she would have been heartbroken if she had lost her camera with its irreplaceable memories inside.
She imagined having lost all those precious moments: the day she took her baby home from the hospital, her child’s first steps. She had consigned these moments to memory, but the pictures spoke a thousand words. She had to do something to try to find the camera’s owner.
Then, Sarah had an idea. She already had a considerable following on Facebook. Perhaps if she shared the pictures online, someone would recognize them. It was a long shot — but worth a try!
“I would hate to lose pictures,” Sara recalled. “It might not be much, but it is to somebody.” But would the owner still be in the area? She knew that there was a chance that the bag’s original owner might have lost it months, or even years, ago.
Taking To Social Media
Sara’s post on Facebook read: “I’m not sure if this is ok to post here, but I purchased a diaper bag at the Goodwill and found a blue Sony Cybershot camera inside with photos. Does anyone know who this family or people in these pictures are? I want to make sure they get their camera and most definitely their SD card.”
Luckily, the camera’s owner happened to be nearby. And the power of social media was all that was needed to bring her and Sarah together.
Within just one hour of Sarah’s Facebook post, one of her followers identified the camera’s owner. Her name was Katie Connor. But Katie was confused at first.
Sarah reached out to the woman with a Facebook message, informing her that she had her camera and SD card full of photographs, but Katie had no idea what she was talking about. That’s when Sarah decided to send her some of the photos in hopes of jogging her memory.
When Katie saw the old photos of her baby boy, she almost burst into tears. She had thought that the camera and all its memories were gone forever!
Sarah arranged to meet Katie at the local Target parking lot, but she could never have suspected just what an emotional reunion this was going to be.
“Thank you!” Katie exclaims as she strides up to Sarah, with an exalted but incredulous look on her face. Sarah hands her the precious camera, and Katie says with a wide smile: “I think we thought it was long gone!”
Then, she tells Sarah just how long the camera had been missing for. Sarah is floored.
7 Years Ago
It was 2017 when Sarah stumbled on the camera inside her lucky Goodwill find, but the camera had actually gone missing in 2010. Katie’s baby had been just a year old when she had taken the photos, but now he was 7.
And, of course, Katie couldn’t wait to look through the old photos with her son as soon as she got home!
Katie had never expected her camera to be found, let alone returned to her. And now, thanks to Sarah, she has all those precious memories back.
But Sarah doesn’t think that what she did is worthy of being called a “Good Samaritan” in the local papers. “I didn’t think of it as a big deal. I would think that anyone else would do it, but I guess maybe nowadays that isn’t the case,” she said in an interview.
Sometimes, being a good samaritan just comes naturally.
The Wheel Turns
He picked up the piece of paper and gave it a glance. His brows furrowed as he realized what he was holding in his palm. He had to read the amount written on it loud to ensure his mind wasn’t playing tricks on him.
What if he cashed it? The sum would be enough to solve a lot of the issues he was facing. But he turned the paper over, seeing something that had him tearing off in a sprint.
Elmer Alvarez was living on the street, and things just couldn’t get any worse. He never thought it would happen to him, but here he was–at the proverbial rock bottom. His personal demons taunted him day in and day out.
He thought he would see a change after he had gotten clean, but now that he felt like he had finally gotten his life together, his life choices came back to haunt him.
To make matters worse, winter was coming to Connecticut. Although Elmer had endured a few, this one was set to be particularly bitter.
His hopeless sigh turned to steam in the chilly November air as he set out to stand at the place he seemed to have the most luck. He relied on the kindness of strangers now, and he had no idea what this fateful day had in store for him.
Elmer would recount later that the events of this particular day would change his life forever, although he didn’t know it yet. He plodded along through the chilly morning, but today he seemed invisible–like a ghost wandering the streets of Connecticut.
“Can you spare any change?” he asked passersby, and every now and again, someone would stop and fish out a few coins from their thick jackets.
Elmer decided it was time to move on and began the long walk to another block. People hurried by, their faces covered by thick scarves and their hands firmly in their coat pockets, their minds on what to order for lunch and the long workday ahead.
Elmer wished he had the luxury to worry about these things, but he was in survival mode, wondering where his next meal would come from–if it came at all. Suddenly, he spotted something lying on the ground.
On The Sidewalk
It looked like a piece of paper, hurriedly dropped and forgotten there on the pavement. A gust of icy wind blew up and caught it, making it flutter and dance along the sidewalk. Elmer doesn’t know why he did what he did, but he somehow knew that this piece of paper was entwined with his destiny.
He walked deliberately up to it and bent down to catch it in his frozen hands. But when he saw what was written on it in black ink, he almost blacked out.
No Ordinary Piece Of Paper
Elmer examined the piece of paper again, and he realized that his tired eyes weren’t playing tricks on him. Someone had dropped something that could make all his dreams come true.
It was a signed check, but the block where the beneficiary would have been written was left blank. Even more surprising was the staggering amount that had been written on the watermarked paper.
Daring To Dream
Elmer’s mind raced as he looked at the numbers again and again. The amount was $10,000–and it could all be his. All he would have to do was cash it, and he could get back on his feet and even off the streets.
He looked around furtively, but there was nobody in sight. Whoever had dropped the check was long gone. Was this a sign from the universe? Could he? And did he even dare?
Just a few blocks away from where Elmer was having his mind blown by his miraculous find, Roberta Hoskie sat at her desk in her office. The CEO and President of both Outreach Realty Services and Outreach School of Real Estate was hard at work, making appointments and planning her day.
To make it in real estate was difficult, and nobody knew this better than Roberta.
Making A Name For Herself
It is hard to believe that this self-made powerhouse of a woman had once been homeless herself. At Just 17 years old and with nobody to turn to, she was a single mother struggling to get by.
Thankfully, her luck changed when she applied for an internship at Yale University. Although she had managed to claw her way out of poverty, she never let herself forget the long and lonely nights she spent out on the streets.
Meanwhile, Elmer turned the check over. Written on the back was a phone number. It was Roberta’s phone number, and although he didn’t know it yet, she hadn’t even realized that she’d lost it.
The two strangers’ worlds were about to collide, and Elmer’s life was about to be turned upside down. Although it pained him, Elmer knew what he had to do.
Elmer looked at the check and took a deep breath. Was he really going to go through with this? $10,000 was an enormous sum of money.
Was he making the right decision? With a new resolve, he walked down the road that would lead him to his destiny. One of his friends had a cellphone, and he would need it for what he was about to set out to do.
The phone rang three times, and Roberta answered it. The man on the other end of the line informed her that she had lost a check that very morning, and she was floored. She searched her handbag in a frenzy and was horrified to discover that the check was indeed missing.
How could she have been so careless, she thought angrily. Regaining her composure, she politely asked the man where they could meet so he could return the check.
Elmer met Roberta on a nearby street corner with his friend and handed her lost check back to her. She was astonished by the man’s honesty, after all, someone else may not have been so honorable when it came to $10,000 on a blank check.
Roberta recorded the entire incident and posted it to Facebook. After chatting with the men for a while, she made an alarming discovery.
Elmer was far too proud to inform Roberto that he was actually homeless, so his friend took the liberty of doing it for him.
She looked at him in disbelief when she heard the news–this new information made the man’s actions that much more meaningful! But Elmer never expected how far she would go to repay him.
A Chance Meeting
Roberto deliberated for a while about what she could do for Elmer to show her gratitude, and then she reached an incredible conclusion. Elmer and her meeting in the way they did couldn’t be a coincidence, could it?
Fate had thrown the strangers together for a much larger reason. She told Elmer to wait at the street corner and rushed back to her office to get her checkbook.
She wrote Elmer a check, and she told him her own story of how she had become a success through sheer willpower and strength. Elmer was floored that she, too, had known such extreme poverty.
He gratefully accepted her check, but when he tried to cash it, Roberta realized that any cash reward would be just a small respite for him and that he had a bigger problem she could help with.
The teller at the bank had refused to cash Elmer’s check, even though it was clearly made out to him and the ID matched. They insisted on giving Roberta a call to clarify that she had indeed given the homeless man the money.
They were suspicious that the check was fraudulent. But two weeks later, Roberta reached out to Elmer again, this time with a solution to all his troubles.
After Roberta had posted the video of Elmer returning her blank check to Facebook, the post exploded. Everyone was in awe of the man’s honesty, and he had grown quite a following–even though he didn’t know it yet.
When he met Roberta for the second time at her office, he was greeted by a throng of people, all applauding and cheering him on. But that wasn’t the only surprise he had that day.
Elmer was presented with a thank-you certificate from an organization that aided with poverty called Ms. Millionaire Mindset, and then Roberta sat him down and proceeded to unveil her grand plans for him.
She said she was going to “teach him how to fish,” and then explained exactly how she was going to do that.
Teaching Him How To Fish
Roberta had enrolled him at her successful real estate school, and his classes would be free of charge.
She was going to teach him how to pull himself out of the poverty cycle, just as she had all those years ago. Then, Roberta went on to present a gobsmacked Elmer with an even bigger surprise.
Roberta informed him that she had secured him an apartment to live in for the next 6 months–and she had paid the entire rent in full!
Elmer’s face crumpled with emotion as he took the enormity of the gesture in, then he leaned over to her and gave her a hug that said all the words he couldn’t. Roberta had changed his life for the better…how could he ever thank her?
Setting Him Up For Success
But the surprises weren’t over yet. Roberta had also set up a standing job interview at her friend’s real estate firm, and once he felt like he was ready, he could go after a career in real estate.
“I’m ready now!” he blurted tearfully. Just two weeks later, Roberta saw the results of all her good deeds for Elmer, and he had some amazing news.
Roberta and Elmer waited in anticipation for the results of the real estate exam, which would mean that Elmer was on his way to being a qualified real estate agent.
Elmer had studied hard and had attended all his classes diligently, and now the results were finally in. Roberto took a deep breath and flipped the results over so they could see them together.
Roberto grinned widely at the long-awaited results…Elmer had passed his exam! The pair was elated at the good news. Now, Elmer was all set to finally fulfill his dreams. And it was all thanks to the blank check he had found and his honorable decision to return it to its rightful owner.
His sidewalk discovery had set off a chain of events that would end in his life being changed forever. Elmer is now firmly in the ranks of the National Association of Realtors, and he couldn’t be happier!
Disclaimer: To protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.