Fundraiser Started For Homeless Man Who Turned In $40,000, Passport

Glen James found the bag full of cash in Dorchester, and promptly alerted police.

UPDATE 09/19: For the latest on the Fundraiser, go here. 

UPDATE 09/16: A fundraiser started for a homeless man in Boston who turned in a backpack full of cash has nearly reached its goal of $50,000. Beyond that, the fundraiser’s organizer, Ethan Whittington, said in an update Tuesday evening that he has spoken with people about finding the man, Glen James, a job and possibly housing. Whittington claims he spoke to James over the phone, and they are figuring out a plan on how to best get the money over to James once the goal is reached. “Donations just keep pouring in. I have had people willing to donate computers, clothes, food, etc. I am also speaking with a few folks about the possibility of a house or apartment,” Whittington wrote. “The sky is the limit, the more money we make, the more people we can help…again, I cannot thank you enough for the support. If we change one persons life at a time, we can change the world.” Hundreds of people have logged on to donate, and as of Tuesday evening, the average donation was about $25.

EARLIER: When Ethan Whittington found out that a homeless man in Boston discovered more than $40,000 in cash and traveler’s checks and immediately turned in the money to police—rather than keeping it for himself—he decided it was only right to reward the man.

“I read the article about it, and I was like ‘I heard about GoFundMe.com,’ and I haven’t dealt with it so much, but it seemed like a great opportunity to help someone out,” said Whittington, who is trying to raise tens of thousands of dollars to donate to the man, Glen James. “I thought what he did was very honorable.”

The story of James, who lives in a local shelter, garnered national attention, which is what prompted Whittington to start the fundraising page.

According to police, on September 14, James found a black backpack that contained more than $40,000 in cash and traveler’s checks, along with a passport, while the South Bay Center in Dorchester. Once he notified authorities, officers took custody of the backpack and its contents. The owner of the bag was later located, and his property was returned. James was honored by police on Monday afternoon, and given a special citation by Police Commissioner Ed Davis. James received the citation for his “extraordinary show of character and honesty,” police said.

During the ceremony, James handed out a written statement, according to Boston.com, thanking everyone who has ever put money in his cup when panhandling. “Even if I were desperate for money, I would not have kept even a … penny of the money I found. I am extremely religious — God has always very well looked after me,” the statement read.

Despite how humble James was about his actions, a simple recognition for him didn’t seem like enough of a thanks, especially considering the fact that James himself lives in a shelter.

After seeing the story all over the Internet on Monday, Whittington turned to GoFundMe.com, a crowd-sourcing fundraising site, and asked people to donate money to reward James for his deed. He is hoping to raise $50,000, but doesn’t know how far he will get. “I made it a point in my life to help people whenever I can, and this funding platform was brought to my attention, and one of my friends was telling me about someone who had raised $30,000 for a [family member in the hospital], and I thought it was a really freaking cool idea, and I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to try and reach out to somebody and really help,” he said. “I think anybody, whether homeless or not, if you find something of that value, and you have the honesty to turn it in, it makes you feel good to see somebody willing to do that, especially in the situation he was in.”

Whittington said he plans on contacting the Boston Police Department, so he can make sure the money, once raised, gets in the hands of James.

A resident of Richmond, Va., he said he would like to hold an official ceremony for James once the fundraising efforts are complete. “I don’t necessarily know how to go about doing that, but I would love to, once the donation comes together, to get some publicity for him receiving the check, and getting that money some how. If we can make that happen that would be great,” he said.


Steve Annear Steve Annear, Digital Writer at Boston Magazine sannear@bostonmagazine.com