An Unusual Item Found Discarded In The Trash Changed One Man’s Life Forever

Old literature with worn pages covered in dust. Ancient furniture passed down for generations. Rare and captivating artworks perfect for the spot above your mantle. These are just some of the amazing things people sell to antique shops, and they’re what give those stores an unbeatable nostalgic charm.

An Edmonton man frequently sold a local antique shop random items he came across, pocketing a small but necessary sum of money for his wares. One afternoon, however, he approached the shop owner with something unlike anything he’d ever found before…

Adam Gillian was no stranger to perusing antique stores. He would often make visits and sell them unusual or rare items he came across. Sometimes he would walk away with a nice little bundle of cash for the effort.

Living in a busy part of Edmonton, Canada was a good thing for Adam. This meant there were several antique stores in the area, and Adam had a strong rapport with all of the owners. This was vital because he needed every dollar he could get.

He relied on the shops’ money because he was homeless. At one point he was employed as a drywall laborer, but he lost his job and fell on difficult times. To make matters worse, his marriage crumbled and three of his four children were placed into foster care.

For three years, depressed and alone, he scoured the Edmonton streets for food and shelter. Winters were absolutely miserable, and Adam had no idea if his life would ever get back on track.

Because he had no source of steady income, he combed through dumpsters in search if potentially valuable items he could sell to antique shops. One afternoon in September of 2018, he found something most unusual.

Buried beneath several trash bags was a hand-drawn, colored still image from the Disney film Bambi. Adam had come across his fair share of random items over the years, but this was different. This, he thought, might make him some decent money.

But every antique store Adam went to had no interest in the image. He wasn’t sure if the print was worthless or if people were hesitant to help because he was homeless.

As the rejections became too overwhelming, and Adam considered abandoning the picture, he entered an antique shop called Curiosity Inc., just a few miles away from the heart of Edmonton.

Curiosity Inc.

Alex Archbold, the owner of Curiosity Inc., happened to be at the store that day. He met the desperate man on a few previous occasions, and he wasn’t put off by the fact Adam was homeless; he actually welcomed the business.

A hardworking husband and a father, Alex had a passion for collecting unique knick-knacks. His family even helped him out at the store occasionally.

The store-owner knew Adam was a decent man, and because of his unfortunate situation, he always tried to help him out whenever he could. When Adam explained that no one was interested in the Bambi drawing, Alex’s ears pricked up. 

You see, over the years, Alex had acquired quite a vast collection of old memorabilia and rare collector’s items. An old Bambi drawing, he figured, would be a welcome addition.

Always fair when it came to prices, Alex offered $20 for the pictured despite not really knowing the value of the piece of the art in his possession. Alex happily agreed to the price.

Later, when Adam was inspecting his new purchase he took the still out of the frame and made a remarkable discovery. He found a certificate of authenticity hidden inside!

There was also a copyright stamp from 1937, which was five years before the film’s release. The seemingly ordinary picture was actually an original hand-drawn piece of Disney art!

Bambi tells the story of a young deer finding his way through the forest with the help of his animal friends. Because of the certificate, Adam had a feeling the picture was worth way more than $20.

And once he put the photo up for sale online, he had his proof: he watched as bids kept pouring in. The price climbed so much higher than the measly $20 Adam wanted.

After it was said and done, the picture sold for a whopping $3,700 Canadian dollars! Alex was elated by the huge profits. But, as an honest businessman, he couldn’t help but feel as if he’d ripped off Adam.

So, in a move so many others would have never bothered to make, Alex spent the next two weeks tracking down the homeless man so that he might give him his cut of the earnings.

He made a YouTube video asking for help, and eventually, he got in touch with Adam and handed him an envelope with $1,850 inside!

Miraculously, Adam’s family caught wind of all the attention he was getting, and they reached out to Alex. The shop owner helped reconnect them with Adam, and not long after, the formerly homeless man bought a train ticket back home to Ontario to reunite with his loved ones.

Before Adam left Edmonton, Alex gave him the phone number to social services and information about a possible job lead that Adam could pursue. Alex beamed with joy as Adam waved goodbye and headed out, ready to finally get his life back on track.

Like Adam, Elmer Alvarez contended with harsh winters on the streets. He, too, was homeless, and the freezing New England winds and snow piles were more dangerous to him than a guy in a heated home, car, and office.

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Still, he already had several winters in New Haven under his belt, so he understood the difficulties of the months ahead. Times had been worse for Elmer, despite his current situation.

Drug addiction had led Elmer down a difficult path. Even though he didn’t have a stable place to rest his head each night, he managed to kick his addictions by attending NA meetings. Talk about beating the odds!

Unfortunately, finding a way out of being homeless constantly tormented him; getting yourself off the streets is much easier said than done. But pacing the familiar streets on one chilly November morning, Elmer walked right up to an opportunity…

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Right in the center of the path was a bit a paper. Most people walking by wouldn’t give the scrap a second glance, but Elmer stopped and examined the forgotten note.


It wasn’t a discarded receipt or a bit of trash: the paper was a freshly signed check. Air whooshed from his lungs when his eyes landed on the amount written on the line…

The amount of the check was a stunning $10,000. With it endorsed and ready to go, Elmer could’ve transformed his life with that kind of cheddar! No one was around, nothing was stopping him from running to the nearest bank.

But taking the money never crossed Elmer’s mind, not for a second. He turned the check over and, low and behold, a phone number was in fact listed on the back.

Elmer walked the streets until he finally managed to track down a friend with a cellphone. As a Spanish speaker, he had his friend make the call to the check’s addressee.

Stefano Santucci / Flickr

At the same time, in an office a few blocks away, a prominent businesswoman heard her phone ring. Roberta Hoskie, a self-made real estate magnate, was CEO and President of both Outreach Realty Services and Outreach School of Real Estate. She answered the call.

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On the other line, Elmer’s friend explained that his friend found her substantial check and wanted to return it to her. Roberta was floored. Had she really lost something so important?

She rifled through her bag, not believing it was possible, only to quickly realize he was right. Shocked that someone was kind enough to reach out, she agreed to meet him immediately.

Once on the street, Roberta opened Facebook Live to document the resolution of the stranger’s good deed. She spotted Elmer and his friend, and couldn’t thank them enough for doing the right thing.

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With Elmer too polite to draw attention to himself, his friend let Roberta know her savior was, in fact, homeless. This struck a chord with Roberta on a personal level that made the events all the more meaningful…

See, before she was a high-powered real estate queen, Roberta faced similar obstacles to Elmer’s. At 17 years old, Roberta was pregnant. To care for her child she had to drop out of school.

She’d been a financially difficult place to begin with, but now, with another mouth to feed, she and her child had no choice but to enter housing shelters to avoid living on the streets.

But thanks to a crucial internship at Yale University that catapulted her life out of debilitating poverty, Roberta was able to break out of the cycle — but she never forgot her time in the shelters. / Flickr

It was because of her past that she knew that her run in with Elmer was not a coincidence. She resolved to take the opportunity to pay it forward, in a big way.

Telling Elmer to wait right there, she hurried back to her office to get her checkbook. She wanted to do more for Elmer than just give him some temporary reprieve.

While brainstorming on Facebook live, a suggestion from a follower gave her the idea. Roberta smiled and vowed, “I’m going to teach him how to fish.”

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Back on the street, Roberta handed over a check, this one addressed to Elmer, and he burst into grateful tears. The pair hugged, and Roberta shared her own story with him.

Elmer couldn’t believe just how much they had in common. Their newfound connection fresh in their hearts, they parted ways. That’s when Roberta put her plans into motion.

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But prejudice reunited them faster than Roberta expected. When Elmer went to cash his check, even with a signature and his ID, shockingly, the bank refused to help him.

They suspected it was fraudulent, just because Elmer wasn’t their typical customer. A quick call to Roberta eased their unwarranted suspicion about the homeless man.

Two weeks later, Roberta arranged a meeting with Elmer. Thanks to her Facebook video, over 13,000 people heard about Elmer’s good deed, and it piqued the interest of the news media.

When Elmer walked in the door, he was greeted with applause by a packed room. He was totally overwhelmed. This wasn’t what he expected when he agreed to meet! Crazier still, things were about to get even more surprising for him…

Roberta Hoskie / Facebook

First, Elmer was presented with a thank you certificate from Ms. Millionaire Mindset, an organization aimed at combating poverty. Next, Roberta laid out her true plan to “teach Elmer to fish.”

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Instead of just paying him for his kindness and honesty, Roberta was going to teach him how to set himself up for success. Elmer was going to be given classes at her real estate school, at no cost to him.

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Before classes started, Elmer would be taught to improve his English skills. But Roberta had another even bigger surprise. Emotion strained her voice while she explained the best part of her plan.

Roberta told him she’d found him a place to live, an apartment he could share with his girlfriend, with the first 6 months of rent and bills completely covered in full!

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Emotions spilled over. Elmer wrapped Roberta in a hug that said everything he couldn’t. Tears streaked his face, and the relief that he wouldn’t face another night on the streets washed over him.

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But Roberta thought of everything, even beyond the 6-month gift. After taking the real estate classes, Elmer was set up with a standing job interview at her colleague’s real estate office.

Once he felt prepared, he could tackle the interview. So thrilled with gratitude, he burst out, “I’m ready now!” But granting all Elmer’s dreams wasn’t Roberta’s goal. She wanted to truly pay it forward…

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So, a few weeks later, they met up to see how he was progressing with his real estate classes. With her followers watching live, it was Elmer’s turn to deliver some good news.

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Waiting to reveal the results of his real estate exam together, Roberta flipped the cover and beamed. Elmer had passed the test! Now just one test remained between him and an endless path of opportunity.

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Public interest in Elmer and Roberta’s inspirational friendship continued to grow. In December, Spanish language television station Telemundo invited the duo on a show to share their unique story.


Elmer revealed that the catalyst was the sudden death of his 33-year-old brother. Tortured by grief, Elmer fell into a life addiction and crime. All in all, he served 5 stints in jail, and in turn, lost contact with the rest of his family…

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…Until the host told him to turn around. Standing on the stage were Elmer’s two sisters! Viewers watched live as the family rejoiced in their emotional reunion. Roberta, who had been communicating via a translator, wept!


Right when his heart rate stabilized from the big reveal, there came another jolt. After years of not seeing each other, Elmer’s mother walked out on to the stage. It was all too much for everyone’s tear ducts.

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Elmer’s simple choice to do the right thing put a set of wheels into motion. A slew of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities presented themselves to Elmer, and Roberta fulfilled her mission to help end the cycle of poverty.

Roberta Hoskie / Instagram

In a few months’ time, Elmer aced his final real estate exam and Roberta put him on the Board of Directors of her company. Motivated, determined not to squander his gifts, Elmer joined the ranks of the National Association of Realtors.

Friends joined by a bizarre twist of fate, Roberta and Elmer focused their energies on a project — with their non-profit, Outreach Foundation — to help other homeless individuals.

Their goal was to acquire dilapidated properties and flip them into transitional homes that offer services beyond the average shelter for the homeless. It would grant people the same shot Elmer was given.

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