For further information:
Tony Hudson, Executive Director
Blue Jacket, Inc.
(W) 260-744-1900 / (C) 260-437-5071
Clothing Donor Receives $9,000 from a Shocking Source
March 31, 2016, FORT WAYNE, INDIANA
A donor who wishes to remain anonymous gathered her husband’s suits, shirts, and slacks and decided to donate them to a charity that she read about in the newspaper a few years prior. She drove to the Blue Jacket Clothing Co. on South Calhoun in Fort Wayne on February 26th and donated her husband’s clothes. She was impressed with the professionalism of the staff and the great care that they took in receiving her donation, until they asked for her contact information. She wanted to be a silent supporter, not wanting a tax write-off, and was kind of “put off” by their requests. According to the staff, this was their typical protocol for transparency and efficiency and though reluctant, she agreed to provide her name and email address. This later turned out to be a wise decision, a $9,000 decision.
The following week would have been their 50th Wedding Anniversary, but her husband passed away in February, 2016 after a three year-long battle with a terminal cancer. This was another reason why she did not wish to be contacted after the donation of all of his clothes. She did not notice the number of missed calls from Blue Jacket staff later that afternoon until her daughter informed her that Blue Jacket employees contacted her and had something really important to talk about. She promptly drove back down to Calhoun Street and met with Blue Jacket employees. Not only did the amount astonish her, but how he kept it secret for so many years, stuffing it away in a jacket tucked far back in his closet also surprised her. But the most surprising to her was the extent that Blue Jacket employees and volunteers hunted her down to return the $9,000 to her.
Her husband was a saver, and had been documenting every deposit for at least three years. He was a detailed gentleman, acquiring that trait from his experience in the military. What he did not document however, was the intention of the savings stuffed away in a jacket. According to the donor, it could have been for a cruise on their 50th wedding anniversary, maybe a new dream car, or for the mounting funeral or hospital expenses. But though she and her family do not know for certain, the timeliness and manner it was found emulated a posthumous, divinely-timed gift to cover the vast funeral expenses. This is where all the monies were applied.
The donor recalled that, “At first I was not going to give my name when I donated the clothes. My daughter reminded me that if I decided to donate to any other thrift store, that my name and contact information would not have been collected, or that important. I am thankful for choosing Blue Jacket.”
What makes this story even more compelling is that $9,000 was found by a Blue Jacket graduate, one that has a criminal record. Blue Jacket’s commitment to give second chances for someone who made mistakes in the past equally holds him or her accountable to make the right, ethical decisions. While processing the donation, he noticed an abnormally large bulge in the suit. Once he found it, he immediately notified the store manager and others working nearby. Blue Jacket clients day after day prove that a bad decision should not define them, that everybody deserves a second chance at redemption.
Blue Jacket forms the institution of trust, allowing people to regain it through hard work. But this story started with a person that did it when no one was looking. He cherishes the trust that he has because there was a point when he did not have it. Stories like this continue to foster the importance of forgiveness and of becoming redeemable, a story that Blue Jacket continues to press with second chances that are earned as it exhibits artwork for the next month at the Artlink Gallery of 13 stories of redemption told by some of the best artists in Fort Wayne, up until April 13th, 2016.
Jarrod Williams, the Blue Jacket Clothing Co. Manager stated that, “I am just happy to be able to play a part in this incredible ”secret gift” story in the order of me just doing my job, I got to be the person to inform Patricia of the great find.”
This would have not been a story without an honest person once labelled an “ex-con,” the insistence to record a name for procedure’s sake, the persistence to return lost money to its rightful owner, and most importantly, a loving husband’s gift to his wife of nearly 50 years. “I was already impressed by the Blue Jacket mission when I read about them in the paper years ago, then I was blown away by the cleanliness and professionalism of this high-end professional thrift store. But when I met the staff that took such great care to honor me and my privacy, I was floored and would like all of Fort Wayne to know what kind of people they are dealing with at Blue Jacket,” the donor said.
Tony Hudson, Executive Director at Blue Jacket, was just thankful that he was able to meet the donor and take part in the story. “I was happy to learn more about her husband and how God blessed his final months on Earth with his very sweet wife that he spent two thirds of his life with. I am so happy that we were able to find her name and number on the newly processed clothing, then find the obituary that eventually lead to the location of her daughter who connected us. What a cool story.”
Blue Jacket is a 10-year old nonprofit with a mission to provide education, training, and opportunities to any disadvantaged person who is striving to earn a second chance at gainful employment. It cut its teeth on the hardest-to-employ returning inmates and has since opened its doors to anyone who is disadvantaged in the marketplace. It has an in-house staffing agency along with the Blue Jacket Clothing Company that sells the high end clothes to fund its clothing bank that gives clothes out for free to the students of the job readiness training called the Career Academy.