The workers at Gnosjö Hjälper only empty their donation jars twice a year, usually receiving somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 kronor a year. But when they emptied one milk jar on New Year's Eve, they got a bit of a shock.
At the very bottom of the can was an anonymous cheque for one million kronor.
"This is huge. . . I can’t even explain how much this means," Gnosjö second-hand store manager Matts Leander told The Local. "Every donation is valuable. But this is unbelievable."
Leander said that normally the largest donations in the cans don’t exceed a couple of 100-kronor notes, making the donation truly extraordinary.
"The first thing that went through our heads was, there must be something wrong here, someone is playing a prank," Leander said.
They quickly took the cheque to the bank, which confirmed that it was indeed real, and had been written just three days earlier. That type of certified cheque, known in Swedish as a 'postväxel' is also entirely anonymous, meaning Gnosjö Hjälper will likely never know the identity of their mysterious and generous benefactor.
Gnosjö Hjälper (Gnosjö Helps) is a non-profit charity organization in the town of Gnosjö in southern Sweden. The organization consists of seven different associations which participate in relief work and aid activity, including the local church, scout union, and Rotary club, and runs the popular chain of second-hand stores in southern Sweden where 95 percent of the profits are used for charity.
Specifically, Gnosjö Hjälper assists orphans and other disadvantaged people in neighbouring Baltic state Latvia. The small country was hit hard by the financial crisis and has not recovered at the speed of more developed European nations. Gnosjö Hjälper donates food, money, and household items to Latvian orphanages, schools, and hospitals.
"Of course people need help everywhere, and we also help out on the home front on a smaller scale," Lelander told The Local. "But you can’t help the entire world, and the Latvians need help more than ever."
The organization will decide how to allocate the money next week, with a majority likely to go to feeding and housing poverty-stricken Latvians.