Friends Find $40,000 Hidden In Secondhand Couch, And Do The Right Thing

05/15/2014 12:44 pm ET | Updated May 16, 2014

The last time you dug into your couch cushions, what'd you find? Some lint, a pen, maybe a couple loose coins?

Whatever you came up with, it likely paled in comparison to the $40,000 three friends found in their couch, a secondhand piece of furniture they'd just picked up at a thrift store.

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money found

Reese Werkhoven, a New York college student, and two friends, Cally Guasti and Lara Russo, had just bought the couch for $20, reports SUNY New Paltz's student newspaper, The Little Rebellion, and were sitting on it for the first time, when Werkhoven brushed against an envelope under the armrest. Inside that envelope: $700 in cash.

"I almost peed," Werkhoven recalled to the paper. "The most money I’d ever found in a couch was like 50 cents. Honestly, I’d be ecstatic to find just $5 in a couch."

A deeper dig into the couch's depths revealed more envelopes, some containing stacks of $100 bills. When all said and done, the trio told CBS New York they'd collected a pile of cash on their floor worth nearly $41,000. "Our neighbors thought we'd won the lottery or something, because we were just screaming," Gausti told the station.

money found

Though they could have easily divvied up the cash and used it to pay off student loans, the three decided to follow up on a name they'd found written on one of the envelopes. A name which led them to an ecstatic elderly widow whose children had dropped the couch off at Salvation Army, planning to surprise her with an upgrade, not knowing it contained her life savings.

"We all agreed that we had to bring the money back," Russo said to NBC New York. "It’s their money -- we didn’t earn it."

For their honesty, the woman gave each of the students $1,000.

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