12-Year-Old Girl Raises $30K for Homeless Man Who Returned Her Grandmother’s Lost Wallet
"I felt very humbled and special that they would go out of their way to do that for me," Sean Currey said of Mikayla Gounard and her mom Vanessa Topper's kind gesture
A 12-year-old girl is paying it forward to a homeless man who returned her grandmother's lost wallet by raising thousands of dollars for him and others in his situation.
Sean Currey was searching for food through a dumpster behind a coffee shop in San Rafael, California on Dec. 10 when he spotted a wallet belonging to 80-year-old Mill Valley resident Evelyn Topper, The Washington Post reported.
Though Currey, who has been homeless on and off for years, briefly contemplated using the credit cards inside, he ultimately decided to call Topper and return the wallet, according to the outlet.
"Anybody in the position of being homeless and cold and tired and hungry, if they found a credit card, they’re going to think about it," Currey, 57, admitted to the WaPo. "But whether you're going to act on it is two different things."
"I would rather be cold and hungry and know that I did the right thing," he added to the outlet.
After hearing about how Currey returned her grandmother's wallet, Mikayla Gounard wanted to show her gratitude, so she started raising money for him — and has since received over $30,000 in donations.
"What began with a lost wallet, progressed into Mikayla's drive-by birthday fundraiser, and has now seeded a friendship with the entire family," Vanessa Topper, Mikayla's mom, wrote on a GoFundMe page set up for Currey. "This isn't about charity. It's about Compassion, the highest form of LOVE."
The heartwarming story began on Dec. 9 when Evelyn lost her wallet while picking up a latte and boba tea for herself and Mikayla at Kamson Coffee, NBC affiliate KNTV reported.
Security camera footage reportedly shows Evelyn paying for the drinks and then putting her wallet inside her jacket pocket. However, Evelyn never zippered the pocket, which appears to be how it ultimately fell out.
It wasn't until she got home that Evelyn realized her wallet was missing, according to KNTV.
"I called the coffee shop immediately," she recalled to the WaPo. "I tore apart my car and my house. I knew it must have dropped somewhere in the parking lot."
"In this little wallet was everything," she added to KNTV. "Every credit, debit, medicare card. Everything I own. I was distraught."
Not long after, Evelyn received a call from an unknown number. On the other line was Currey, notifying her that he had found her wallet and wanted to return it to her, according to the WaPo.
"I started screaming," Evelyn recalled. "I couldn’t believe it."
Currey said he insisted on finding Evelyn and returning it, despite suggestions from friends to do otherwise, "because I got a heart" and "that's the way I was brought up," KNTV reported.
"I would want someone to do the same thing for me if I lost my wallet," Currey added to the WaPo.
The pair arranged to meet in the parking lot of a nearby shopping center, which also happens to be where Currey parks his Chevy Tahoe, the car he currently lives inside, according to the WaPo.
Once there, Evelyn gave him money to show her appreciation for his kindness. Later, she called her daughter and granddaughter to tell them about his good deed.
Inspired by Currey's kindness, Mikayla decided that she wanted to do something to show him her gratitude, according to the WaPo.
Since she was already planning to raise money for a charity at her upcoming drive-by birthday party, Mikayla thought it was a no-brainer to focus her donation efforts on Currey, who her family learned had been homeless for nearly five years, the outlet reported.
They also discovered that Currey was particularly struggling amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and had no shelter for the longest period of time he's ever experienced, despite working here and there with "handyman stuff," the WaPo reported.
On the day of her party, and after receiving permission from Currey, Mikayla's guests rolled past her driveway — decorated with a table, balloons and a photo of Currey beside a money bowl — and left birthday wishes, as well as monetary donations.
By the end of the bash, she had raised $475 for Currey, which she and her mom got to personally drop off to him at a parking lot, the WaPo reported.
"I got to see him smile, and it made me really happy," Mikayla recalled to the outlet, while Currey added, "I was just so touched. It was refreshing, knowing that people her age want to help."
But people were still asking Vanessa and Mikayla how they could help, the WaPo reported. So the mother-daughter duo set up a GoFundMe page, with a goal of raising enough money to get Currey "off of the streets and into a temporary housing situation that keeps him safe and warm."
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With the additional money, the pair hope to partner with Currey "to create a sustainable row of tiny houses for the San Rafael homeless community at large, using his design and construction experience," according to the GoFundMe.
"An unlikely pair, whose lives became intertwined from one act of honesty and another of generosity," Vanessa wrote on the page. "Let's learn from our children to plant a seed and watch it grow..."
As the donations continue to pour in, Currey said in a recent YouTube video update that he "feels very blessed."
"Who knew that returning a wallet to someone I didn't know would turn into something that is gonna spark something really good?" he noted in the video.
"I believe I have a good heart," Currey added to the WaPo. "Maybe, if I keep doing the right thing, more people will too, and it will change the world, in a small way, for the better."
Those interesting in donating to the GoFundMe for Currey can do so here.