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,’ 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, 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, 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.

  • jason

    What a great idea. I hope it catches on. Just watched a segment on the news about it and they suggested giving it to him in person at South Bay station.

    • cubebro

      he already made more money from the donations

  • i Man

    It’s a good thing that Glen James did not turn in that lost bag to the Port Authority Bus Terminal’s Lost & Found Dept. in NYC where the supervisors routinely steal lost property that is turned in to the Lost & Found Dept.

    Google “Donna Lebourne abc news.” & watch the video, or click on the link below.

    If you lost an item at the PABT & it was not returned to you, put in a theft report with the PAPD to get your lost item replaced because most likely your item was stolen by PABT management.

    It would be nice to see the Port Authority aggressively go after the criminals and their enablers that they employ who engage in these same disgraceful crimes and even worse criminal acts, i.e. the unconscionable and highly illegally procedure of throwing valid lost passports found at the PABT in the garbage, for anyone to find & use for their nefarious purpose in this age of global terrorism and rampant identity theft.

    Action must be taken against these corrupt incompetent criminals in the Port Authority before another terrorist attack takes place & more innocent lives are lost due to their blatant utter disregard about our safety & security. Google “found, stolen, trashed by PA.” See the link below.

    No one should be above the law no matter who they work for.

  • Zeus de Crete

    Just be careful and don’t hand him a bag of money and leave him in the streets please. Get him a place for a month so he can stretch, relax, and enjoy some of his winnings in peace.

    • cubebro

      i agree

  • cathead10

    It might help to update the fundraising page with a concrete plan of how the money would be transferred. Would he receive a large sum of cash outright? Should there be a more structured framework in how he is granted the funds? It would also be helpful to have more information about the organizer – who he is, where he is from, etc.

    • Steve Annear

      @cathead10:disqus Hey Mr. Cathead10. So here is an update from Whittington: “Lots of questions coming in about assurance. Working on a plan now. I can assure you the money will go to the right place.” I vetted his background a bit, and he was verified through his Facebook account by GoFundMe. His LinkedIn matches high school and college and business records, and his family has been Tweeting about it. Hope that helps a little.

      • cubebro


  • OldHippie43

    Did the owner of the backpack give this man a reward? I’ve found nothing to indicate he did. If he didn’t, hopefully the backpack full of money gets stolen next time. Glad to hear about the fundraiser.

  • Dick Goesinya

    Mr. Whittington – I recommend you get with and keep all the funds in an escrow account of some kind – where all transactions can be verified to satisfy skeptics who might otherwise donate. You could arrange it so that you and perhaps another trustworthy individual can set this up as a trust that pays Mr. James $1000.00 each month until the account is exhausted. Perhaps you could approach a high-profile bank in Boston to assign someone in administration to assist Mr. James in navigating the complexities of assuring his fund is safe and having easy access to it. Maybe they could help him manage it while he gets back on his feet. It would be good public relations press for the bank, for you, the fund and most importantly, Glen James.

  • risraelkloss

    A Chinese “tourist” with $40,000 in a backpack the “lost”? Why isn’t anyone talking about this “tourist”?

    • deepFish

      He happened to be a student from China carrying mostly in travelers checks ($40k) plus few thousands cash.

      • NWDC

        $40,000 in traveler’s checks? A student? Was he paying his private college tuition in cash?

        • Sarah Rowlands

          Believe it or not this is actually how many international offices suggest you do it. International wire transfers are very expensive for that type of money and take a very long time. When I moved out to the US for school I brought my funds for the first year in the form of travellers cheques as they clear within 24 hours. That is very typical for an international student.

          Though LOSING that bag… how!? So freakin’ careless.

  • Kyle Cordiano

    I’d give him at least $1000 for his honesty if I was the owner.

  • CRosow

    Zeus de Crete is right. Mr. James probably has no way to handle a large check or a large amount of cash. He would be extremely vulnerable to loss or theft (or worse!) if he were carrying $100 or more. It may sound patronizing, but he should get assistance to deal with this generosity.

  • Marina Bakkenist

    First things first. A house and a job.

  • dancer92136

    Just donated. BostonStrong

  • Barbara A O’Brien

    This made me cry, not because the man turned in the $40,000, but because someone in turn cared enough to d something for him!

  • Jason Williams

    I read this story on Realprincess1 twitter page. She helped gain the international exposure and support. Once she tweeted about Glen over $30K raised yesterday afternoon worldwide. I donated and follow her. Thank you Ethan and Shirley! Amazing people

  • Natashia Marcum

    Human beings have the capacity to do great things! Not just Mr. James, but everyone who helped set up the fundraiser and all those who contributed! Now this makes me proud to be an American!

  • Hannah Jones

    I was looking online to do a speech for in one of my classes. I’m definitely doing it on this. Its just so inspiring!! 🙂

  • jeanette

    seems to me the owner would have made a large donation.saw nothing said of him ,except claiming his money

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