Jim Thomas has decided to find a new hiding place for his emergency cash.
"I don't hide money in shirt pockets any more," said Thomas, a Columbus resident who lives in the Hilliard school district.
The 46-year-old self-employed painting contractor used to stash money in the pocket of a shirt tucked in the recesses of his bedroom closet.
On Aug. 3, Thomas inadvertently donated the shirt, containing seven $100 bills, along with several other items of clothing, to the Goodwill of Columbus on Main Street in Hilliard.
But he was lucky: An honest soul, Doug Schreck, discovered the shirt and the cash at the charity organization's sorting center and reported it to a supervisor.
"I thought it was long gone," Thomas said. "I thought I'd never see it again and was prepared to call it a $700 mistake and a lesson learned."
Thomas said he keeps cash at home in case it is needed for living expenses between contracting jobs, or for emergency purchases related to his contracting.
He began searching for the shirt Aug. 7 to add money.
"I looked and looked again (for the shirt), then I began to panic," Thomas said. "... Then I suddenly remembered about the clothes I had taken to Goodwill."
Thomas immediately contacted Goodwill and a corporate employee sent a communication to all the area retail stores late that evening.
Thomas might have had a restless night of sleep, but good news was on its way.
"I got a call a little after 10 a.m. the next day," he said. "The caller asked, 'Is this Jim Thomas?' I said 'yes,' and he replied, 'I'm about to make your day.' "
Thomas said Goodwill employees told him finding the shirt amid donations from throughout central Ohio was literally like "looking for a needle in a haystack."
"I wanted to meet the guy who found it," said Thomas, who went to the organization's sorting center and warehouse on Fisher Road Aug. 8 to retrieve the money and meet Schreck.
Schreck, 34, of west Columbus, is a clothes sorter at Goodwill and said he simply relied on the "Golden Rule" when he found the money.
"If it had happened to me, I'd want someone to help me," Schreck said.
Schreck works from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and learned at the start of his shift to be on the lookout for the shirt Thomas had described.
"About 30 minutes later, I found the shirt (and the money) and took it to the supervisor," Schreck said.
Thomas said he wanted to give Schreck a reward on the spot, but Schreck was not permitted to accept it at work, so Thomas offered all he could that day: profuse gratitude.
But Thomas said he had since arranged to meet with Schreck and offered him a reward for his honesty and integrity.
"It feels good to help someone," Schreck said.