A mystery donor has launched a scavenger hunt inside grocery stores in Oregon, leaving cash prizes for the lucky recipients.
A dozen shoppers at a Fred Meyer grocery store on Southeast Commercial Street in Salem have found $100 bills stuffed inside egg cartons, ice cream containers, and other random grocery items over the past few weeks. Walmart customers have also had similar experiences. And although no one knows who the mystery donor is, there is some speculation that an unidentified person who won $25,000 in the Oregon Lottery earlier this month may be paying it forward.
“We can confirm that there have been 12 different customers who have found $100 bills in our store. Upon finding the money, they’ve all alerted a store clerk and have been allowed to keep the money,” Melinda Merrill, the director of publicity at Kroger, the company that owns Fred Meyer, told Yahoo Shine. “It’s a wonderful thing.”
Shopper Jennifer Smith-Poelz got lucky in the frozen aisle, finding her fortune inside an ice cream container. “I just think this is the coolest thing ever,” she told Portland, Oregon, local news station KGW. “Whoever is doing this has brightened so many people's days. I wish I had ample amounts of cash to be able to surprise people like this. I mean, it's fabulous.”
Phil (no last name was provided) told KGW that he experienced a double windfall, finding a $100 bill each inside two cookie boxes, while shopping at Walmart. “I opened it up and a $100 bill fell out, just like that,” he said. Phil continued searching the shelves and hit the jackpot again: “There were three boxes left, and l turned them over and lo and behold, there was another $100 bill.“ The timing was impeccable. He is racking up huge gas bills driving to and from a hospital in Portland every day to visit his girlfriend, who is suffering from renal failure.
Anonymous donations do more than just benefit people on the receiving end. One study presented at the Annual Conference of the Royal Economic Society in April found that mystery gifts, which are given more frequently than public ones, induce a feel-good ripple effect, encouraging subsequent donors to make 4 percent larger contributions. But why would someone forgo the ego boost of making a public donation?
“These types of gifts are examples of altruism in its most authentic form,” Paul Hokemeyer, Ph.D., a Manhattan-based psychologist told Yahoo Shine. “The givers tend to give with no expectations in return; they simply want to help. There’s also a self-protection factor at play. When people give publicly in large sums, friends, family, and colleagues may perceive them differently. It’s not uncommon for people who give in public to feel objectified by their generosity. The bottom line: Whether givers donate publicly or privately, their generosity is inspiring.”