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Homeless man returns $17,000 found outside Sumner food bank

A homeless man returned $17,000 he found in a bag outside the Sumner Food Bank. Here's how the man's honesty was rewarded.

At Sumner Community Food Bank, Executive Director Anita Miller says she was left speechless when she learned about an act of kindness that happened August 23.

"I think it overwhelmed everybody," Miller said.

Volunteer Russell Carver says on that August morning, a man was waiting for the food bank's doors to open.

"He said somebody left this donation for the food bank, and we were just shocked," said Carver. "We just couldn't believe how much money was in there."

The man said he made the discovery on the food bank's doorstep.

Sumner Police were called. Deputy Chief Jeff Engel said $17,000 was in the bag.

"You kind of wonder how many people would do something different in that position, most people probably would," said Engel.

Officers also wanted to find out where the money came from in the first place.

"We had those thoughts go through our head. It could be tied to a theft. It could belong to someone. It could be a simple donation. We just don't know, " he said.

To learn more, police looked to a surveillance camera.

"They looked at the video, and the officers recognized Kevin right off the bat," said Engel.

The man in the video, who found the money, was Kevin Booth. Booth is someone officers often see walking along Main Street.

"He's been homeless about seven years," said Engel.

They've seen him at the food bank and know he could use the money.

"Well, he said that. He said 'I could have used this, but I knew that it was a big decision for me'," Miller recalled.

Booth talked with Deputy Chief Engel about it. "He said the community could use it more than I could. Spread it out to help a lot more people."

Booth's decision led Sumner Police to honor him for his honesty. Last week, he was presented with a Police Chief's Citizen Citation that states, 'We are all very proud of you and believe that your actions are in keeping with the finest traditions of Sumner's most civic-minded citizens."

Police held on to the money for 90 days, and no one ever contacted the department to claim it, according to Engel. Now the $17,000 found on the doorstep will help build a bigger food bank.

"We are going to get a walk-in freezer which is going to be great," said Miller.

Booth, facing a true test of the honor system, chose to put others before himself, and now his city can't thank him enough.

The food bank rewarded Booth with gift cards for his actions.