While sorting through clothes donated for recycling, a resource recovery officer found NT$283,930 (US$10,140) stuffed in red envelopes and returned the money to the owners.
On January 25, Huang Chi-lung, a 28-year-old member of the Taichung Nantung District Environmental Protection Bureau Cleanup Team, was sorting through used clothes at the bureau’s collection site when he found red envelopes stuffed with money inside a bag of old clothes. He immediately notified his supervisor, reported SET News.
Traditionally, “red envelopes” (hongbao) with money inside are given as gifts on special occasions in Taiwan, overseas Taiwanese communities, and many other East Asian nations, especially during Lunar New Year. In Taiwan, just before the start of the Lunar New Year holiday, companies customarily hand out end of the year bonuses worth a certain multiple of the monthly pay as red envelopes.
The bureau then worked with the police to find the owner of the clothing and discovered that it was an elderly couple in their 70s. Overjoyed that their lost money had been found, the couple went to the police station to thank the worker in person.
Huang has been with the bureau cleaning team for about four years. He works as a resource recovery officer for the Nantun District cleaning team.
Chen Hsiu-ling, head of the cleanup team, said that after reporting the incident, they rummaged through the bag of old clothing at the police station and found invoices and receipts, in addition to the money. Police were able to track down the owners through information found on the receipts and surveillance camera footage.
Based on an initial investigation, a 72-year-old woman surnamed Zhou put spare money in the red envelopes to save for her daughter’s dowry and retirement. Once the couple found out their money had been found, they went to the police station and brought a large box of apples to express their gratitude to the resource recovery officer.
It is understood that when Chou’s husband was doing his end of the year cleaning, he packed up some old clothes and gave them to the cleaning team. When doing so he failed to notice the red envelopes stuffed inside.
Environmental Protection Bureau director Chen Hung-i reminded the public that “Taichung Cleaning Month” is from January 14 to February 10 and items should be searched carefully for valuables before being thrown out.