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Police honour homeless man’s good deed

— New York Times News Service
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Glen James did not think twice about returning a misplaced backpack containing over Rs 1.5 lakh

Under the canopy at the T.J. Maxx store, Glen James sat among the shopping carts, shaded from the late-summer sun. As shoppers bustled through the South Bay plaza Saturday, James proofread a letter, resting on the bag he brings with him when he panhandles.

As he read, James noticed a young man nearby, sitting on an overturned carriage. He had a bag, too, a black backpack at his feet. James went back to his letter. When James looked up again, the man was gone. But his bag was still there.

Finds cash and cheques

After a time, James went over to see what had been left behind. Inside, he found $2,400 (Rs 1.52 lakh) in cash and nearly $40,000 (Rs 25.35 lakh) in travellers checks, along with a passport and personal papers. For a homeless man who subsists on food stamps and spare change, it was a staggering sum, maybe even a chance at a new life.

But James, a slight, bespectacled man in his mid-50s who says he has been homeless for five years, said the thought of keeping the money never crossed his mind.

''Even if I were desperate for money, I would not have kept even a penny of the money found," he said Monday in a handwritten statement. "God has always very well looked after me."

James immediately flagged down police, who in short order returned the bag to its owner, a student visiting Boston from China. James, a man who lives in a homeless shelter and relies on charity for change to wash his clothes, had returned a small fortune without a second thought.

For his actions, James received a citation on Monday at Boston police headquarters, where Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis praised his "extraordinary show of character and honesty."

James, who has a speech impediment, said little at the ceremony, saying he was self-conscious about his stutter.

A good feeling

As cameras flashed, he smiled nervously and appeared somewhat overwhelmed. But when asked how he felt about returning so much money, he did not pause. ''Very, very good," he said.

In his statement, James wrote about how he found the money and said he had worked at a courthouse for 13 years as a file clerk, before being fired. On Monday, the courts could not immediately confirm his employment. James could have gotten another job, he said, but he suffers from an inner-ear disorder that causes prolonged vertigo spells.

As he left the ceremony at police headquarters, employees watching from behind their desks stood and applauded. His eyes widened, and he nodded his thanks.

Outside the station, James was asked if there was anything he would like, anything at all. As he got into a police cruiser that would take him back to the shelter, he said, "No war."— New York Times News Service

Selfless act pays off

BOSTON: More than $68,000 (Rs 43 lakh) in donations have poured in from people around the country for Glen James.

Ethan Whittington, a 27-year-old marketing firm employee from Virginia, said he set up the fund because he was inspired by James' action. He also said that he had begun talking with James on how the donated money would be used.

By midday on Wednesday, the online fund had brought in $68,012 from 2,698 donors, many of whom left messages of praise for James, including: "Such a beautiful person. Reduced me to tears," and "We have a lot to learn from you."

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