What would you do if you stumbled upon a $500 money order? Return it, right? But what if you were a homeless teenager and really could’ve used the cash?
Montrez Jefferies found the $500 money order near the Social Security Building in Durham, North Carolina. The 18-year-old had only one option in mind: return it.
The decision wasn’t easy. Jefferies is homeless, and, if it weren’t for the shelter where he resides, he’d be living on the streets.
Jefferies said, “Making a lot of bad decisions and getting in trouble at school and then getting involved in gangs … that’s how I ended up here.”
The teen added that doing the right thing a couple of year ago would’ve been challenging to him. But the positive impact that Jefferies felt due to him living at the Durham Rescue Mission’s Center for Hope has turned him into a different person: “I really have changed. . . . A few years ago, I just would’ve cashed it and wouldn’t have thought twice about it.”
“My mom always said do to others what I’d want them to do to me. I feel like if somebody found something that I had dropped and it had my name on it, I’d want them to take it back to somebody so they could give it back to me.”
The staff at the Durham Rescue Mission, which provides people with food, shelter, vocational training and job placement, among other services, helped track down the rightful owner, a woman who holds down two jobs. When Jefferies returned the money order to the woman, who wished not to be identified, she gave him two gift cards, a big hug, and a thank you “for returning it” and not cashing it.
The return didn’t go unnoticed. After locals found out about Jefferies, The Reality Project, a Durham nonprofit, and the Carolina Aces Bike Club, decided to pay it forward by raising money for the teen using a GoFundMe campaign. As of this writing, 189 people have raised $4,286 in eight days.
“I am not sure many people, homeless or not, would have done this act of kindness,” Ernie Mills, CEO and co-founder at the Durham Rescue Mission, said. “We are so thankful for the change in Montrez’s life since he came to the center.”
Jefferies feels his past won’t deter him from the future he has planned out for himself. He wants to finish high school, go to college, and even start a career. Let’s hope all of this pans out for this selfless teen.