Joni Powers holds up the two $100 'Benny' bills she found at Goodwill on Feb. 14. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

Joni Powers holds up the two $100 ‘Benny’ bills she found at Goodwill on Feb. 14. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Is Benny back with his $100 bills?

Keizer’s Joni Powers sure is a Benny Believer.

On Valentine’s Day, Powers was shopping in the toy aisle at the Keizer Goodwill store with grandson Jackson, 3. Powers takes care of Jackson full-time so his parents can both work.

Having not worked herself for more than 18 months, money is a little tight for Powers.

“I live on $30 a week,” Powers said. “Both of my kids work. We just started going back to church. This was after church on (Feb. 14).”

Powers said she saw a man who might have been the ever elusive Benny.

“That day we were talking,” Powers said of herself and Jackson. “He said, ‘Grandma, are you going to buy those clothes?’ I said, ‘No, I’m too cheap to buy something for myself.’ I told him we couldn’t buy anything. We were in the toy aisle. I had seen this guy being close (to Jackson). I went over near where he was and he left. I went back to the toy aisle and on the third shelf, right there on eye level where he’d been, was a $100 bill. No one could have just dropped it, because it was too high up.”

Powers didn’t know what to do and debated internally if she should pick it up or leave it.

“I was just so excited,” Powers said. “I stood there for a few minutes, maybe 20 minutes. It was too much in plain sight for it to be an accident. It was sitting right there. I thought maybe that was meant for me. Then about 25 feet down, another shelf down, I found another $100 bill. I wasn’t searching for more when I saw the second one.”

Powers and Jackson returned home. Later, Powers showed the bills to her daughter, who noted “Benny” was written on both.

This isn’t the first time such bills have been found in the area. Two springs ago, there was a rash of such occurrences in Keizer, as chronicled twice in the Keizertimes in the spring of 2014.

Powers figures she must have been the target and suspects it was the man she saw standing near her grandson.

“I don’t know if he’d heard me say grandma didn’t have a job,” Powers said. “I don’t know for sure if it was meant for me, but it was weird we were right there. He had seemed out of place, then I looked to where he had been and there was a bill. It shows good things still happen. I feel very lucky and special.”

The incident has left Powers itching to return the favor.

“It’s made me want to pay it forward,” Powers said. “I won’t use this all for myself. A lot of people need things. I’ll dole it out. Maybe I’ll buy a lunch for some old couples or pay for a prescription for someone, just a way of saying, ‘Guess what, someone cares.’ I won’t give big bills away, but I will share.”

Powers said she wants to give Jackson a good haircut and he has expressed interest in getting a soccer ball. Jackson also suggested another purchase.

“He said, ‘Grandma, now you can buy something for yourself,’” Powers said with a laugh. “And I did. I got these jeans for $6.”