At some point in our lives, we have probably all daydreamed about the possibility of stumbling upon something unexpectedly valuable, whether through a purchase, inheritance, or chance encounter. For instance, imagine inheriting an ancient vase from your great grandmother, only to discover it’s worth a fortune due to its age, or buying a seemingly ordinary painting at a market that turns out to be the masterpiece of a long-deceased world-renowned artist.
In most cases, such wishful thinking remains just that—wishful thinking. The odds of stumbling upon something immensely valuable by chance are unfortunately quite slim. However, occasionally, the unexpected does happen, and stories like that of Howard Kirby from Owosso, Michigan, serve as a reminder that miracles can occur.
In December 2019, Howard, an elderly man with a penchant for browsing through secondhand stores, decided to visit the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in search of furniture for his man cave. Among the various items he purchased that day, a used couch and matching ottoman stood out. Little did he know that these pieces would surpass all his expectations.
Over the following weeks, Howard noticed something peculiar about the ottoman—it felt different, almost peculiar, compared to the couch it came with. Intrigued, he embarked on an investigation. To his astonishment, when he and his daughter unzipped one of the cushions, they discovered a locked box hidden inside. Their amazement intensified when they opened the box and found stacks upon stacks of hundred-dollar bills.
The total amount, once counted, amounted to an astonishing $43,170. Howard, a new retiree who had faced his fair share of hardships, could have legally kept the money. And there were certainly compelling reasons for him to consider doing so—a difficult divorce, health challenges, a family member lost to cancer, and his son’s unemployment. Moreover, his house needed a new roof. However, Howard, guided by his deep-rooted Christian beliefs, grappled with a moral dilemma.
In the end, he chose not to keep the money, despite his own troubles. Howard reached out to the store to inquire about the ottoman’s donor and successfully traced the original owner. He returned every single penny, motivated by his faith and conviction. “Being a born-again Christian, Christ in me is the one that actually gave the money back,” Howard explained. “Remember the bracelets, WWJD? Well, that’s what Jesus would do.”
The rightful owner of the cash turned out to be Kim Newberry, and deeply moved by Howard’s extraordinary act of kindness, the Newberry family felt compelled to repay him. They offered to fix his roof, unaware that Habitat for Humanity and a local builder had already planned to provide Kirby with a new roof as a result of his selfless generosity.
Grateful for the unexpected blessings he received, Howard expressed his profound gratitude, saying, “I don’t know how to say it, I’m blessed. I’m blessed beyond words.” A GoFundMe campaign was started in support of Howard, which raised over $15,000, further highlighting the impact of his inspiring story.
Howard Kirby serves as a true inspiration—a reminder that even in the face of personal difficulties, we have the power to make selfless choices. He returned a significant sum of money without any obligation, despite the immense difference it could have made in his own life and that of his family. Let us share his remarkable story and continue to inspire others to act with compassion and generosity.