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Shoe-sorter finds cash socked away

Fred Kuhrt is used to finding pennies, nickels and dimes in the shoes he sorts at Goodwill. Thursday, he found a bit more - $3,000 stuffed into a shoe.

"I took one look at that and I said, 'Oh, oh, oh,' " said Kuhrt, who works in a program for the handicapped at Goodwill Industries-Suncoast. He has worked for Goodwill for 20 years. "I just covered it up quick so nobody else would see it."

Then, Kuhrt called his boss.

"I said, 'What's up?' " Gina Weiss recalled. "Then I saw the money. . . ."

The money, in $20 and $50 bills, was stuffed into several bank envelopes with the name, "Mrs. Henry Konarske," and a Pinellas County address written on the side. Goodwill employees found the telephone number and called. Henry Konarske, who is recuperating from a recent operation, answered the phone.

He said that his wife, Martha, recently had died and he had just donated some of her belongings, including some shoes, to Goodwill.

Then the Goodwill employees told the 90-year-old retired postal worker about Kuhrt's find.

"I didn't know what to say," Konarske said. "It was a surprise to me, I didn't know anything about it. Until she got sick about two years ago, she took care of all the bills. She kept asking me, 'Do you need money?' " Konarske said that since his wife's death, he and his niece have found $7,000 in dressers and shoe boxes stashed around the house. All the money has been deposited in a bank. Konarske thinks his wife started hiding the money because of her memories of the Depression.

"When the banks closed, we lost everything," Konarske said. "So she was leery about banks. She was a schoolteacher and always stashed some away and stashed some away."

For Konarske, the money couldn't have come at a better time. He said he recently got out of the hospital after undergoing a hernia operation, and the medical bills are mounting.

"I hope it won't take it all," Konarske said. "(But) you know doctors."