A New York College Surprised With $180,000 Donation in Cardboard Box

by Madison Miller

For months, a package full of a massive amount of money sat at a New York college untouched like something out of a 1980s action movie. The good deed remained unnoticed and unrecognized.

Then, in-person classes started up again at The City College of New York and physics professor Vinod Menon was greeted with something extraordinary.

When Menon opened his mail at the start of the semester on September 1, he expected to find a lot of junk mail which was what was commonly waiting for him in the mailroom. He sat down and opened the package in a now-battered cardboard box. According to CNN, inside were huge stacks of $50 and $100 bills, which in total equaled $180,000. It was a situation you tend to only see in movies, but The City College of New York saw it in real life.

Luckily, there was a letter inside to help explain the entire situation. Not so luckily, it was unsigned so the donor remains anonymous. The letter explained that the donor had graduated from the college with a double major in physics and mathematics a long time ago. This person would also later return to the school for an MA in physics and eventually a double Ph.D. in both physics and astronomy.

The Mysterious Box and Donation Sent to New York College

But, why did this person anonymously drop off so much cash in a strange cardboard box? The hope was to use this money to assist the school that set him off on the right career path. Specifically, they want the money to go junior and senior students that are also double majors in math and physics to get the financial assistance they need.

“Assuming that you are (a) bit curious as to why I am doing this, the reason is straightforward: the excellent educational opportunity available to me — which I took full advantage of at CCNY (and Stuyvesant High School) — gave me the basis to continue to develop,” the letter said.

The box had been sitting for a bit, as well. It was delivered on November 12, 2020. The school had moved to remote learning starting in March due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Regardless, Menon felt inspired as an educator. The money really showcased the power of a good education in some people’s lives.

“Seeing the money was a shock. Reading the letter really made me proud and happy to belong to this institution, which actually made a difference in that person’s life,” Menon told the news outlet.

The college made sure the money was not the result of any kind of criminal organization before proceeding. They also tried to track down this mysterious donor as well. No luck at all. The name on the package didn’t match any alumni records and the return address didn’t help at all, either. Eventually, the school board unanimously voted on December 13 to approve a resolution in order to accept the charitable donation.

The school will be giving out two full-tuition scholarships each year with the money. From this donation, these scholarships will fund that $7,500 per-year tuition gifts for a decade. They hope to have this scholarship fund up and running in the fall semester of 2022.