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Donations pour in for homeless man who returned cash

Glen James, a homeless Boston man, found a backpack full of about $40,000 in cash and traveler’s checks and turned it over to police.

Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

Glen James, a homeless Boston man, found a backpack full of about $40,000 in cash and traveler’s checks and turned it over to police.

One good deed inspires another, it appears.

After Glen James, a homeless Boston man, returned a backpack full of about $40,000 in cash and travelers checks to its owner, a fund-raiser for the good Samaritan, with a goal of raising $50,000, was set up by a Midlothian, Va., man who has never been to Boston.

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In under 24 hours, the “GoFundMe” website, made by Ethan Whittington, 27, raised more than $20,000.

“It started with wanting to help a someone in a small way, and now we can help them in a large way,” said Whittington, who found James’s story on the Internet yesterday. He set up the account around 3 or 4 p.m. After tweeting the link to the page a few times, Whittington said the donations started pouring in. He decided that because James returned $40,000, he deserved $50,000.

“It’s a good amount of money to get your feet off the ground,” said Whittington who is brainstorming during the next week or so the safest way to get the money to Boston. James and Whittington had just spoken on the phone for the first time around 1 p.m. today.

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“He sounded happy,” said Whittington. James thanked him and expressed concerns about the publicity of receiving a large sum of money.

The two are trying to devise a plan for the donations. Whittington wants James to think of what he needs, whether its medical assistance, housing, clothes, food, or furniture.

“The way fund-raising is going right now, the sky is the limit,” said Whittington. Many of the donations have been sent anonymously, but Whittington is receiving huge amounts of positive feedback through e-mail.

“We’ve all been in that situation when we’ve lost something,” he said.

Boston police held a ceremony to honor James yesterday, where he received a citation and praise from Commissioner Edward Davis.

James had found the backpack at South Bay plaza Saturday, and flagged down police to return it to its rightful owner.

Melissa can be reached at or on Twitter @Melissa__Hanson
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