Local benefactor kicks off '#HiddenCashPawtucket'

Local benefactor kicks off '#HiddenCashPawtucket'

The winners of the first #HiddenCashPawtucket hunt pose with their winnings.

PAWTUCKET - A local man was watching "The Today Show" a few weeks ago when one particular segment caught his attention. Some person out in California had started out hiding cash and tweeting clues on how to find it. Someone in Colorado then picked up on the idea and started giving his own money away.

"Why not bring that idea home to Pawtucket?" thought this city resident who goes just by his first name, Shawn.

Shawn said "#HiddenCashPawtucket," a monthly search adventure that involves him tweeting out clues from his @EnterPawtucket Twitter handle to guide residents to hidden cash, is quickly catching on.

Shawn said he mentioned the idea to his wife, who was on board right away despite the personal investment of $50 a month.

"This is our way of giving back," he said.

Shawn, who started a website for local happenings back in January, enteringpawtucket.com, says he's lived in Pawtucket for 17 years, getting involved in a number of civic efforts. He and his wife have two children.

#HiddenCashPawtucket is unlike anything he's done to date, said Shawn. This is about doing something for the city he loves without expecting anything in return. He wants it to be a community-building exercise that brings people together and inspires others to do good things. He is also hoping that his example causes people in other Rhode Island communities to start similar giveaways.

The first #HiddenCashPawtucket scavenger hunt happened on June 7. A series of clues from Shawn led the winning searchers to the bleachers at Max Read Field. The first clue is always designed to be the most difficult.

"My name suggests that I'm a 'literary end all.' Right of center. Plus 2," read the first clue.

The second clue narrowed it down.

"I host many events that R played with an oblong-shaped ball. Sitting is better than standing," tweeted Shawn.

Then came a third one that helped searchers zero in on a location.

"Raiders come here to play."

Shortly after, a woman named Rebecca, who goes by @BeckOnTheRun on Twitter, tweeted a picture of herself and a friend with money they had found under the second row of bleachers at Max Read.

"Hey @EnterPawtucket, I found the cash with @ohSEANstate! Thank you! #hiddencashpawtucket #payingitforward," she tweeted.

That #payingitforward hashtag is what it's all about, said Shawn. Even if someone needs the money, his hope is that they'll use his act of kindness as a springboard to one of their own.

Shawn said he plans to keep #HiddenCashPawtucket mostly a summer thing. Following a second successful search last Saturday, he's planning another for a Saturday in August and likely one more in September. He expects to bring the game back for a holiday season special, a $500 cash reward to the person who figures out the clues the fastest.

The clues for the second $50 last Saturday led the winning searcher to a spot near the Fanny the Elephant statue and Adventure Playground in Slater Park. The clues were as follows:

* Children and adults come here to play. I never forget adventure.

* Kids laugh and play where I stand all day.

* Look beyond where you think.

The winner of the second $50, who goes by the Twitter handle @vzarate_94, announced the find a few minutes after the third clue.

According to Shawn, he came from a "very middle class background" and was always taught to give to those who are more needy. He and his wife struggled financially during their early years in Pawtucket, "living paycheck to paycheck," but now both have "great jobs" and the ability to give more. He works at CVS Caremark while his wife works at a CVS competitor.

Shawn is reminding searchers to remain civil. He doesn't want to hear about people creating dangerous situations to find the money or fighting over it if they arrive to find it at the same time. His hope is that the goodwill he and his wife are showing will inspire others.

The idea, said Shawn, is that people who don't need the money will allow others who are more in need to search for it uninhibited, but it's not for him to judge who deserves the money.

Pawtucket has been a great community to live in, said Shawn. He and his wife have always found the city to be a "neighborly place" and one they're proud to be a part of.