A woman was browsing through craigslist to find furniture for her new home when she stumbled upon a free couch. She was skeptical and suspected something was off - and well, she wasn't wrong. Here's her story.
Vicky Umodu moved to the United States decades ago, but even before her trek across the globe, she was one of those people who was always kind to others. She always tried to stay positive - a very extraordinary trait to have!
Vicky and her late husband moved to the United States in 1988 from Nigeria, where they were both born and raised. Upon their big move, Vicky was pregnant with their first child. And as if that wasn't all a big enough surprise, there was another major change on her horizon…
The Big Move
The two new immigrants settled into their lives in the United States and were ready for new beginnings! Vicky's husband worked hard and opened up a small business, while Vicky spent many years working hard as a registered nurse and as a midwife.
Vicky and her husband had six children together! Talk about a big happy family! Being a parent was always Vicky's first responsibility, and she spent time volunteering as a teacher's assistant at her children's elementary school. She did everything she could to spend extra time with her kids!
One Big Happy Family
As the years passed, Vicky's family grew bigger and bigger! The momma of six ended up with some beautiful grandchildren after her children grew up and became parents of their own! "My children are all grown now, so my grandchildren are my main focus," Vicky said.
"When my two oldest grandchildren are away at school, I babysit the youngest one," she continued. Family was always the most important aspect of her life. And as quickly as time went by, she had a strong feeling there would be more pleasant surprises waiting for her one day.
However, with all the joyous occasions, there were still moments in Vicky's life that left her and her family tremendously devastated. Her husband suddenly passed away one day, leaving her and her family with an unrepairable hole in their heart for years to follow.
Despite her large and tight-knit family, she suffered from being lonely after her husband had passed away. She had made the move of a lifetime with him in the 1980s, and it now became too difficult for her to be on her own. Vicky needed to be closer to her family - so she had an idea.
Moving Closer to Home
From the moment she became a mother years ago, Vicky was always happiest when she was near her children. Upon her husband's passing, she realized she needed to be closer to her children and her grandchildren more than ever. So she hatched a plan and gave her daughter a call.
Vicky lived far from her children and grandchildren, who were located in Southern California. But she had a big idea that ultimately changed her life. Vicky decided the best move was to pack up and move her life to San Bernardino Country to be closer to her daughter.
Making the Move
The new California resident decided to make moves, and as a result, she found a home in Colton, California, right near her family. Vicky packed up her belongings, gave away most of her furniture, and decided to get going! Little did she know what surprise would be waiting on the other side…
Vicky's daughter also helped her mother get situated in the new place, cleaned up, and checked that everything was up to par before she officially settled in. There was a lot to do and a lot to unpack - but there was one huge piece missing before they could get to it.
On the Search
Sometimes upon moving into a new home, the previous homeowners will leave a few pieces for the next tenant. However, this was not the case for Vicky. The people who lived in the house before Vicky left absolutely nothing. "Sofas, tables, chairs, beds — I needed everything," she later said.
The initial move was so exciting, but when she finally arrived at the house, there was absolutely nothing. And it made the move a little tough in the first few days. Vicky didn't even have a fridge yet and was ready to collect everything she needed for her house to turn into a home.
Turning to Craigslist
Being the kind soul she is, Vicky ultimately gave most of her belongings from her old house away for free, so she had to find a big task of finding completely new furniture. In order to avoid dropping the big bucks, she decided to look at Craigslist.
Vicky decided the best option was Craigslist because there are some really great deals on there. After just a few minutes of browsing through the site, she found one listing that looked great: a cream-colored couch, which appeared in great condition; however, there was something that looked suspicious…
A Lucky Find
After staring at the listing for a while, unsure if what she was seeing was legitimate, she called her daughter. Her daughter confirmed what she saw was correct, and in fact, the couch was being given away for free. Now, if that's not luck, what is…
Her first thought was that the free couch that was perfect for her living room was too good to be true. There must have been a catch. Right? "I thought it must be a gimmick," Vicky later recalled. "But [the seller] was very kind and told us to come to the house."
Regardless of her initial thought, she decided to go and check it out. So Vicky and her daughter went to the seller's house and saw the couch - and it was in perfect condition and comfortable! The elderly woman told the seller she would take the couch and have it arranged to be picked up.
"I'd given away most of what I had before the move and was planning to try and find some cheap furniture somewhere," Vicky said of her situation. She later recalled that it was such a relief for her not only to have found a free couch but that it was also nice.
Her New Surroundings
Besides for her new couch, the living room and the rest of the house were pretty empty. Luckily, she had a few chairs for when she needed a break from moving and needed to take a seat. However, the new couch was on its way, and she was so excited for something more comfortable.
Moving is never easy, but it's also hard to envision an empty house full of furniture! She knew it would be difficult, so when the cream-colored couch arrived, she knew things would get better. Not to mention, she could start decorating the place!
What's in the Box?
When the movers came to drop off the couch, they also brought in a cardboard box that they set on the floor once they arrived. Vicky was beyond confused. The couch had made it, but what was inside the box? Confused at what could be inside the package, she decided to open it…
The man who Vicky got the couch from on Craigslist decided to give the new couch owner a few more free household appliances and kitchen supplies that she could use in her new home. Vicky had explained to him what was going on and why she decided to move, and he stepped in and helped.
The Unboxing Continues
The generous man explained to Vicky that the couch and all the other furniture he was giving away belonged to his uncle, who no longer needed any of it. The previous couch owner decided to give away his sofa and all his other household items to people who needed them.
It was surprising for Vicky to have found someone who not only gave her a couch, but also other household supplies! Unfortunately, such generosity from strangers is not as common to come by these days. However, Vicky felt blessed, and her luck kept going…
Turning the House to a Home
Now that Vicky officially had the couch in her home, it was time to do some reorganizing! She and her daughter thought it would be easy to find the perfect place to put the couch, seeming that the house was pretty empty - but in fact, that only made it harder for them.
The mother and daughter duo spent some time rearranging and designing where they thought would be the best place for it. And after much consideration, they landed on an ideal place. Vicky felt so much more settled with the couch finally in its place. But as she was staring at the sofa, she noticed something suddenly looked off.
Taking a Closer Look
Vicky walked over to look closely at the cushions thinking that she found something wrong with the free couch. She thought maybe there was a tear on one side of the couch, causing the cushion to be ruined! She decided to inspect further at the possible damage…
She looked closely at the couch and thought perhaps it could have been a heating pad that caused the visible lump inside the sofa - but she didn't exactly know. She was a little worried at the discovery and immediately thought if she needed to find a new one to replace it.
What's in the Envelope?
Upon some more examination, the mother of six stumbled across something that was far from what she expected and definitely was not a lump from a heating pad! Vicky looked closely and uncovered a thick envelope embedded into the couch pillows. What could be inside?
There were so many questions running through Vicky's head and so many possibilities of what could be in the secret envelope. She figured it could have been essential papers the uncle or man who gave her the couch hid away and forgot about before having over the sofa. Little did she know...
However, when she opened the envelope, she was not expecting what she had pulled out! Vicky quickly realized that the hidden envelope was stuffed with thousands of dollars in cash. What was she going to do next? So many questions and simply not enough answers…
"I was just telling my son, 'Come, come, come!' I was screaming, 'this is money! I need to call the guy,'" she later recalled of the unbelievable scenario. There was so much cash in the envelope that Vicky wondered how it was possible the family didn't notice before handing it over.
Counting the Bills
Upon hearing his mother loudly call him over, Vicky's son ran over to see what was going on. The duo was in complete disbelief at what they were seeing and how many bills were in the hidden envelope. So what next? The two decided to start counting the bills…
As they started counting, they were left stunned: there were $100s, $50s, and $20s all stuffed in the envelope. And after counting, they had over $36,000 in their hands. They could not believe that the family had given them this couch with a secret - and very expensive - envelope discovery inside. What was going on?
That was no small chunk of change. That amount of cash would undoubtedly allow Vicky to get the financial start she needed on getting her house and new life in Southern California together. However, she just wouldn't feel right if she kept the money. "I knew I couldn't keep it," she confessed.
"I knew I had to give it back," she said. "God has been kind to me and my children, they're all alive and well. I have three beautiful grandchildren, so what can I ever ask from God?" Vicky was beyond grateful for what she had already, and even though the extra money would be helpful, she knew what she had to do.
Giving It Back
Vicky immediately called the man she received the couch from on Craigslist and let him know she had found an insane amount of money hidden away in the couch. The man who gave Vicky the couch definitely did not mean to hand over $30,000+ with it. He was just as shocked.
When Vicky called the previous couch owner, she ensured him she wanted to return the money as quickly as possible. And sure enough, the man quickly sprinted over after hearing what she had to say. He thanked her for being so kind. However, it didn't stop there.
What Goes Around Comes Around
For many people, if they were to find a massive chunk of change hidden inside their couch, they might keep it. But that wasn't the case for Vicky Umodu. She was a kind and honest woman and decided to call the man who gave her the free furniture to return it.
The man was so thankful for her honest deed that he decided to do something that Vicky least expected. The previous-couch owner gave Vicky $2,200 from the massive cash stash to show her how grateful he was for the phone call. Vicky was at a loss for words.
Everything Coming Together
As Vicky explained, she believed in doing the right thing. She was always known for having a generous and open heart, so this just made sense for her. "I was not expecting a dime from him; I was not," she told ABC-7. But, she did recognize that this money would help her a tremendous amount.
The generous gift the man gave her was completely unexpected, but Vicky knew she could put it into great use. The elderly woman could now afford to buy a refrigerator in good condition, amongst other household appliances for her home. Things in her new home were coming together.
Why Was The Money Hidden?
But Vicky still wanted to get some answers. The woman later learned that the furniture all belonged to the man's uncle. And when he passed away, the family decided it would be best to give it away to people who needed it. But why were there thousands of dollars hidden in it?
The man who gave Vicky the couch unveiled that his uncle had only told one other relative about the money he had hidden. Apparently, he hid money all around the house for a few years! Vicky might have thought it a bit strange but decided not to poke much further.
Doesn’t Stop at the Couch
However, the man shared with Vicky he was unsure why there were thousands of dollars spread throughout his Uncle's home. The man did mention that he found $1,000 tucked away in another location of his house - but he never dreamed he would find anything more.
As time went on, the man found hundreds of thousands of dollars throughout his uncle's old home, and the couch was just another great hiding spot! However, it was unclear what exactly the man was doing, hiding all this money throughout his house (and his couch).
With all the madness going on, Vicky knew she did the right thing. And in return for her generous deed, she received a generous gift. "All my life, God has been good to me," she said. "Even in hard times, I have felt blessed. It's important to do the right thing in life."
She continued to share that growing up in Nigeria, she grew up learning the importance of kindness and honesty. And with her move to America all these decades ago, these life lessons came with her. They were also passed down to her kids and grandchildren for years to come.
The move she made to Southern California all became more worth it than she would have ever thought! Returning the money brought her nothing but good karma, and Vicky finally felt at home. She was grateful to have a place of her own near her loved ones.
"We are all very comfortable and enjoying the beautiful furniture that was generously given to us at a time when we really needed it," Vicky confessed. She later added that when she first saw the couch listed on Craigslist for free, she thought something was wrong with it.
Happy To Help
"When she called me about the Craigslist ad, she told me she had nothing and needed everything that I was posting," the man who gave Vicky the couch eventually spoke out. "I was happy to help Vicky and put the furniture and other items to good use," he continued.
"My heart went out to her, but you also wonder if somebody is going to turn around and sell everything for a profit," he later shared. Unfortunately, some people might have gotten the free couch and other household appliances and sold it to make money for themselves.
Looking for the Right Home
Everything changed for him when he got the phone call from Vicky, who was innocently looking for furniture to fill her new home. He later explained he knew he was giving everything to the right person - especially when he arrived at her house and saw the only thing in her house was the couch.
The news of the mysterious envelope came as a major shock to the man Vicky found on craigslist for two reasons. The first being that he couldn't believe his uncle hid $36,000 in cash in an envelope inside an old couch. And two: because he couldn't imagine someone would honestly return it.
A Second Look
Vicky Umodu knew she had done the right thing at the end of the day. She received the free couch from a generous man on Craigslist and definitely did not expect this to happen! The mother of six felt perfectly happy with what she had and knew this was just a part of her journey.
At the end of the day, she decided to move to Southern California to be closer to her kids and grandchildren. And that's exactly what she did. When asked if she had found any more magical envelopes, she jokingly said, "No, I haven't found any more money in the cushions."
The Life Lesson
Vicky had made a major life-changing decision to move to Colton, California. But she knew what she wanted to do to be closer to her family. Through her fateful discovery, she realized the people in her neighborhood were kind and warm, which was extremely special!
Due to her honesty and act of kindness, and the appreciation in return from the man who gave her the couch, Vicky was able to afford the refrigerator she needed for her new home. And perhaps we could all learn from her the value of treating our neighbors how we would want to be treated.