Savings bonds returned 30 years later to help homeless man get off the streets

A Kansas pawn shop owner helped a homeless Chicago man get off the streets, returning savings bonds now worth $3,000 that he pawned more than 30 years ago, WGN reported.

Woodrow Wilson Jr., who was stationed at an Army base near Junction City, Kansas, sold a stack of $100 savings bonds for some quick cash three decades ago.

Now, Wilson is 58 and homeless, but thanks to the efforts of Chris Mathis, his immediate needs have been solved.

Mathis took over the pawn shop from his father several years ago. He decided to return savings bonds to those people who had pawned them off and had found more than 50 of them, WGN reported.

Mathis had Wilson’s name and a photograph, knew he had been homeless and had been arrested for loitering.

When a reporter found Wilson, she asked about pawning the bonds.

"Yes! I remember the pawn shop!" Wilson said.

Wilson was surprised to learn that his handful of $100 savings bonds were now fully matured and worth more than $3,000.

"You could use $3,000, right?" the reporter asked Wilson.

"Yeah! Yeah!" he replied, but he remained skeptical until he got on the telephone with Mathis.

"She told me about it but I thought she was trying to trick me,” Wilson said to Mathis, who made plans to return the cash by Friday.

It was relief to Wilson, who had been turned away by crowded shelters and was desperate for a warm place to sleep for more than a week, WGN reported.

"They've been jam packed,” he said. “You just can't get in.”

With just two pairs of pants and a blanket in his backpack, Wilson said the money will be enough to get him off the street for good this winter.

"He could have kept it himself and cashed it in. I'm surprised he's going to give it back to me,” Wilson told WGN. “It means a lot because I don't have nothing. It really helps me.”