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Glen James, a homless man who turned in backpack with money, gets thousands in donations

9:31 PM, Sep 17, 2013   |    comments
Glen James, who turned in a lost backpack containing nearly $42,000 in cash and traveler's checks, was honored Sept. 16, 2013, by Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis. (Photo: Steven Senne, AP)
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(USA Today) -- It's been raining pennies from heaven for Glen James, a homeless man who was honored Monday for returning a Boston visitor's lost backpack filled with nearly $42,000 in cash and traveler's checks.

And his honesty is paying dividends.

An online fundraising campaign set up by a Virginia man to help James had surpassed $45,000 by Tuesday evening, with donations from more than 1,700 people. The goal is $50,000.

James' good deed may also lead to a job and possibly housing, organizer Ethan Whittington wrote on GoFundMe.

"Donations just keep pouring in. I have had people willing to donate computers, clothes, food, etc.," he said. "I am also speaking with a few folks about the possibility of a house or apartment."

"The sky is the limit, the more money we make, the more people we can help," he added. "If we change one person's life at a time, we can change the world."

James told Whittington that he had been able to open a bank account with the money that people had given him on the streets the past few days.

Whittington toldThe Boston Globe on Tuesday afternoon that he and James had just spoken by phone for the first time.

"He sounded happy," said Whittington, 27, who has never been to Boston.

James expressed his thanks, he added, along with concerns about the publicity surrounding his good fortune.

James said he lost his job in a local courthouse and became homeless in 2005. He lives in a local shelter.

At police headquarters Monday, Commissioner Edward Davis presented James with a citation, praising him as "an honest guy."

In a written statement handed out to reporters, James said, "God has always very well looked after me," and he thanked "every pedestrian stranger" who has given him some spare change.

He found the backpack Saturday at a shopping center in the Dorchester section of South Boston. It contained $2,400 in cash and $39,500 in traveler's checks. He flagged down a passing police car and turned over the bag.

"Even if I were desperate for money, I would not have kept even a ... penny of the money I found," James said.

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