Volunteer Finds Stacks of Cash Worth $4,000 in Hollowed Out Book, Tracks Down Owner

The old saying “Give a hoot, read a book” is an important piece of advice for modern life. Today’s world is full of distractions.

With TVs, phones, computers, and tablets bombarding us with information and entertainment at a near constant rate, we often forget the joys that come with picking up a book.

Books are a simple form of entertainment but nevertheless encourage the growth of our imagination and intellect.

Most importantly, books can teach us kindness and how to live in an increasingly complex world. One woman in Arizona is proof positive of how reading can give people the opportunity to do good in the world.

Cathy McAllister is a proud volunteer at a book sale for the Volunteer Nonprofit Service Association, Inc., a Phoenix, Arizona-based charity.

Originally established in 1949, the book sale has two major purposes: giving the general public a place to buy affordable books and using funds collected from the sale to sponsor other services, notably the Literacy Volunteers of Maricopa County and Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation.

Cathy is just one of about 130 volunteers who organize the over 600,000 donated books, getting them ready for the book sale that is held each February.


Cathy was preparing for the sale when she came across an abridged edition of Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Determining that the copy had seen better days and that the sale already had three other copies of the book, Cathy was about to discard it before deciding to give it a closer look.

Opening the book, Cathy was stunned to see that the previous owner had hollowed it out and put a large sum of money in it.

At first thinking that it was Monopoly money, Cathy soon realized that the money was real and amounted to $4,000. Mixed in with the money, Cathy found a letter the previous owner had left to his children, instructing them to split the money among themselves.

Cathy was determined to find the right owners of the money. After a quick search, Cathy was able to contact the son-in-law of the book’s owner, who thankfully donated a large sum of money to the book sale.

When asked why she didn’t keep the money for herself, Cathy said that she wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if she had shown such selfishness.

What do you think of Cathy’s actions with the donated book? Have you ever found money or other objects that were hidden in a strange place? What would you have done? Let us know - and feel free to pass this along to your friends and family!