8 Accidental Charitable Donations

You know how you hold on to some stupid kitchen item for like eight years, then decide that you’ve used it once and donate it to Goodwill? Then the next week, you find yourself in critical need of that garlic press for the first time since the Clinton administration?

Now imagine that garlic press was worth $13,000.

People accidentally give away family heirlooms or other valuables surprisingly often. Here are eight of those stories — some with happy endings, and others where people wish they'd never cleaned out their closets.

1. An 80-year-old Illinois man was getting rid of some clothes and decided a suit was past its prime. After he dropped it and other discarded items off at Goodwill and went home to enjoy his decluttered house, the man realized he had made a $13,000 mistake. Not trusting the banks, he had sewn his entire life savings in the lining of an old suit - the suit he had decided to donate just hours earlier. He immediately returned to the store, but the suit was nowhere to be found. He’s still looking for it, actually. Photo via

2. Last summer, a worker at a Goodwill near Chicago was sorting through a bunch of jewelry donations when she found a metal bracelet stamped with “CMS CHARLES D. KING, 25 DEC 68.” Suspecting it might be a POW/MIA bracelet from Vietnam, the worker researched Charles King and discovered he had a sister living in Iowa. When the jewelry was returned to King’s sister, an amazing coincidence was discovered: she also worked at Goodwill.

3. If you’re shopping at a Goodwill in Illinois, be sure to check the pockets of the clothes, because apparently valuables are left at thrift stores in the Land of Lincoln quite often. In 2008, a worker at a store in Glen Carbon discovered $7,500 in cash stashed in a donated shoebox.

By inspecting some other bits of paper left in the box, they were able to locate the donor. His parents had recently died and had thrown the box in the “to donate” pile without inspecting its contents.

4. In 2010, a Goodwill in Maple Grove, Minnesota, found a stack of cash in the pocket of a donated coat. Spokespeople wouldn’t reveal exactly how much was found, but said that finding an amount this large was quite rare. No word on if the accidental donor was ever found.

5. Unintentional gifts happen at the Salvation Army, too. A bride-to-be in San Diego hollowed out a book to use as a hiding place for jewelry she intended to wear at her upcoming wedding, including a family heirloom. She also stashed about $7,000 along with it. Perhaps on a cleaning spree to make room for wedding gifts, the bride cleared out a bunch of books and donated them to a Salvation Army trailer. She called as soon as she realized her mistake, and with the help of a Salvation Army major, managed to locate her missing valuables.

6. In 2005, a family donated most of their recently deceased grandmother’s possessions to the Salvation Army in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. The only thing they decided to keep was a diary. When they got around to flipping through the diary several weeks after making the donation, they discovered she had hidden a large amount of cash in plastic Easter eggs, intending to surprise her family with an Easter egg hunt they would never forget. She passed away before Easter and the eggs were donated, presumably with a number of other holiday knickknacks the family didn’t even think twice about. As far as I can tell, the eggs were never returned.

7. Let this be a lesson to those of you who like to clean out your significant others’ closets when they’re not home. One Colorado wife did just that, and when her husband discovered that his wardrobe was a little lighter, he became quite distraught. Apparently his hidey hole was an old wallet in the pocket of a pair of ancient Levi's, and his wife had inadvertently donated a “two-inch thick” stack of bills to the Salvation Army. Luckily, the pair was able to get back to the store and locate their bags before workers had even started sorting through them.

8. Compared to some of these stories, a missing book worth $400 doesn’t seem like much of a crisis. But when it’s a family heirloom with a personalized inscription on the inside cover, the loss really stings. A man accidentally donated the book “The Grim Glory of the 2/19 Battalion AIF” to a local book fair. It contained a story about his father, a field doctor with the battalion during WWII, and a handwritten dedication to his dad from the book’s editor. The book fair’s coordinator discovered the book and knew it must have been accidentally donated. She was able to find the owner and return it nearly a month after it was donated.

15 Organizations Helping Women Around the World

Organizations supporting women and promoting equality and fairness in wages, in behavior, and with opportunities have spent years putting women's rights at the forefront of their missions. In honor of International Women's Day, held annually on March 8, we've compiled a list of organizations that are fueling this societal change for the better. Check out the institutions that are helping fight for what's fair, no matter where women are in the world.


A woman walks with her child

Since 2007, this advocacy group has been empowering under-privileged women in Uganda by offering business training and access to microloans to help facilitate their professional independence. The group's contributions have emboldened Ugandans, with five women affiliated with WGEF's programs running for—and winning—political office in 2016.


A Center for Reproductive Rights illustration
Center for Reproductive Rights

Supporting a woman's right to make decisions about her own body is the focus of this legal consortium, which has had impact on local and international laws. They've had influence over reproductive health policies in Asia, Africa, and the U.S., and helped shed light on an oppressive abortion ban in El Salvador that's led to women being jailed for stillbirths. Their efforts on behalf of "Las 17," 17 Salvadoran women accused of having abortions, has seen several women released from prison; the efforts are ongoing.


The Women for Women International logo
Women for Women International

This nonprofit seeks to support women displaced or marginalized by conflict and oppression in eight foreign territories including Iraq and Rwanda. Many of their efforts are education-based, facilitating classes and finding opportunities for graduates. Currently, the group is offering psychosocial and educational resources to Syrian women in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, with a goal of reaching over 3000 women in the next three years.


A classroom facilitated by School Girls Unite
School Girls Unite

This nonprofit tackles education discrimination among young women in developing countries. In Mali, Africa, for example, only one in four girls make it to 7th grade. School Girls Unite subsidizes their education, often at a cost as little as $75 per child, and follows the recipients to encourage them to complete their education.


The Time's Up logo
Time's Up

The personal and professional consequences of reporting sexual harassment in the workplace have often made it difficult for women to speak out. Fearing they'll be ostracized, they remain quiet. On top of that, legal action can be costly. Backed by the National Women's Law Center, the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund seeks to provide legal assistance for women looking to battle harassment in court. Just two months into their existence, organizers have fielded 1700 requests from all across the world, including the U.S., Kenya, and Kuwait.


A mother holds her child's hand

Model Christy Turlington Burns founded this activist group that seeks to improve medical care for mothers around the world by training professionals, improving transportation to care facilities, and donating crucial supplies to clinics. The organization has arranged grants that have improved mother mortality rates in Tanzania, Haiti, and India.


A book is open to the definition of equality

Putting an end to unjust and gender-biased laws is the focus of Equality Now, which has helped change over 50 laws and pursued equal rights since its inception in 1992. Thanks to their activism, women in Kuwait have voting rights; in the U.S., the group's protests and engagement also helped pass the first law prohibiting sex tourism.


A woman works in a field

Persistent cultural traditions endorse the practice of female genital cutting (FGC), which involves the removal of external female genitalia. Risky, unnecessary, and invasive, the tradition is being challenged by Orchid Project, which aims to end the practice by circulating educational information in areas like Ethiopia.


A person types on a laptop

Since 1987, this social enterprise has pursued the mission statement of founder Anita Borg by putting women in a position to excel in the technology field. The group provides resources for education in coding and diversity both in the U.S. and abroad. In India, they organize career fairs for women only, offering companies the chance to improve their gender diversity in the workforce.


A woman sits with her child

Offering financial resources to poverty-stricken areas of Guatemala, Friendship Bridge offers opportunities for education and entrepreneurial training that would otherwise be unavailable.  By offering microcredit loans, women collaborate with other members of a "trust" and take part in educational sessions as part of the terms of the loan. By combining capital with resources, Friendship Bridge is able to facilitate better working conditions for the population.


The Pathfinder International logo
Pathfinder International

Pathfinder seeks to eliminate barriers to health or reproductive services in over 19 countries, working to end unsafe abortions and HIV transmission. The group also offers family planning counseling and aims to expand the availability of contraceptives.


Articles of clothing are arranged on a rack

Wearing the appropriate attire for a job interview is crucial for prospective employees. For over 20 years, the caregivers at Dress for Success have been helping women realize their professional goals by providing apparel they might not otherwise be able to afford. The nonprofit accepts clothing donations and then distributes them to countries and areas that may not have wardrobe resources on hand.


A Global Fund for Women infographic
Global Fund for Women

Movements big and small have been influenced by this nonprofit that seeks to finance efforts toward equality. The group has helped over 5000 directives in 175 countries since 1987, including efforts to improve women's working conditions and halt human trafficking.


A woman sits in a field

Helping women thrive in rural India in the focus of this nonprofit, which prioritizes education, health care, and gender equality. Their goals have emphasized self-defense training for women as well as financial management skills. 


The MADRE logo

Following wars or natural disasters, MADRE teams with local community leaders to create solutions. When resources are scarce, the organization brings in the tools necessary for women to help rebuild. In Kenya, that can mean clean water; in Colombia, it could mean art therapy for survivors of war or abuse.   

Disney/Marvel Studios
Success of Black Panther Inspires Disney to Donate $1 Million to Youth STEM Programs
Disney/Marvel Studios
Disney/Marvel Studios

Since opening in U.S. theaters on February 16, Blank Panther has already defied industry expectations more than once. The blockbuster now holds the records for biggest February opening, biggest standalone Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, and highest-grossing film featuring a black cast. To celebrate the film's groundbreaking success, Disney is donating $1 million to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Fortune reports.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America is a nonprofit organization that provides after-school programs to young people from low-income households. They offer kids a place to build their athletic, artistic, and leadership skills, but Disney's donation will go specifically toward funding STEM programs (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

The technology of the fictional African nation of Wakanda plays a central role in Black Panther. Shuri, T'Challa's sister and the head of all things tech in the film, has been praised for potentially inspiring young women to take an interest in STEM. "It is thrilling to see how inspired young audiences were by the spectacular technology in the film," Robert A. Iger, Disney's chairman and CEO, said in a statement. "So it’s fitting that we show our appreciation by helping advance STEM programs for youth, especially in underserved areas of the country, to give them the knowledge and tools to build the future they want.”

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America will use Disney's generous donation to help establish STEM Centers of Innovation in cities across the U.S., including Atlanta, where much of the movie was shot, and Oakland, California, the hometown of Black Panther director Ryan Coogler. Ten additional cities, from New Orleans to Chicago, will also be getting STEM centers of their own.

The donation is sure to make a huge impact on communities around the country, but it's just a fraction of what Disney is set to make from the film. According to some projections, it won't be long before film surpasses the $1 billion mark at the global box office.

[h/t Fortune]


More from mental floss studios