TODAY   |  October 04, 2013

Homeless man: $148K for returning $40K is ‘surprise’

Glen James, a homeless man from Boston, found and returned a backpack with more than $40,000 worth of cash and traveler’s checks. A stranger from Virginia launched an online campaign to reward him, and people around the world donated $148,000. NBC’s Kerry Sanders reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> an uplifting story to tell you about. a homeless man in boston found a backpack full of cash and did the right thing turning the money over to the police and now his good deed is being rewarded. kerry sanders has more.

>> good morning. he went from being homeless to being a hometown hero for being an honest guy. it's the story about the human spirit when one good deed leads to another. glenn james is homeless. to most in his hometown in boston just another nameless panhandler but three weeks ago as he sat at the south bay mall he spotted an abandoned backpack. he peeked inside and discovered a passport and more than $40,000 in cash and travelers checks . to any homeless man, a fortune, which is why what he did next was remarkable.

>> i noticed a lot of $100 bills. and i said, oh my goodness. this has to get back to it's rightful owner.

>> reporter: glenn handed the bag of money over to boston police . they along with this town celebrated his selflessness. more than 500 miles away in virginia, ethan wittington saw the story about the good samaritan online and said glenn deserved more than a plaque. ethan started an online campaign . so far people from around the world have donated more than $140,000. thursday, the two men met for the first time at whdh. our nbc station in boston .

>> how are you doing?

>> so glad to see you.

>> good to see you.

>> thank you.

>> thank you. you're the one that deserves the thank you, for sure.

>> glenn that doesn't like to speak because of his stutter wrote his feelings on the back of a desk calendar.

>> real clear and slow.

>> ethan read his words of wisdom .

>> the worst thing about stuttering is also the best thing about it. people assume you're not too bright and so they let their guard down and then you outshine them.

>> passers by listened moved by glenn 's words and actions.

>> thank you, you're a good person and a very kind hearted person to return all that money.

>> did you think in the big picture here you'd wind up teaching us something.

>> oh, no, this is a total surprise and shock to me that it has gone this far.

>> reporter: one man's good deed inspiring another.

>> what did you learn about yourself helping him?

>> the biggest thing is that if you get enough people to come together and try to reach a specific goal that it can be accomplished. i never expected it to be the way it has and to change my life the way it has.

>> did you hear that? how he said it changed his life but this was to change your life.

>> well, it is definitely going to change my life in a positive and big way. everything is good.

>> i'll give you a hug.

>> okay.

>> now $140,000 is a lot of money. so to make sure that it doesn't go to drugs or alcohol and to make sure it's not a burden with tax issues, a lawyer has set up a trust that requires the money will be used to help glenn . first on the agenda, finding a place for him to live near his sister.

>> a great story on both ends. he did the right thing with the money and then somebody else does the right thing for him.

>> this crowd sourcing thing really works.