Gulfport woman receives surprise $24,000 check from state

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A Gulfport woman is $24,000 richer, and no, she didn't win the jackpot.

Pamela Wilkinson received a check Tuesday from State Treasurer Tate Reeves totaling $24,203.80. The money came from the state's unclaimed property reserve.

You see, Wilkinson's father had an insurance policy. When he passed away nine years ago, Wilkinson never knew the money existed.  The Treasurer's Office found Wilkinson by calling her uncle.

"I got a phone call about a week and a half ago telling me that my dad had an insurance policy that had been unclaimed that I knew nothing about," said Wilkinson.  "And at first I thought it was like a joke, because you know, you hear about all this and you think this is never going to happen to me."

Wilkinson is a teacher at Bayou View Middle School.  Her family lost everything in Katrina. She said the money is truly a special gift.

"Yes, yes, I am still in shock. It's still unbelievable," said Wilkinson.

And the money comes just days before Father's Day.

"It's like a reverse gift," she said.  "It's like my dad is giving me a gift instead.  And he's not here, but he is in my heart"

Wilkinson said she plans to save the money and see what needs come up. She is putting one son through college.

"When people think of the treasurer, they think about the person they send their money to and send their tax money to," said Reeves.  "But the Unclaimed Property Division gives me an opportunity to come out and find people and return their rightful property to them.  And in certain instances like this, it can be a life changing event and can really help people that were hurt after Katrina and it's a truly amazing opportunity to be able to do this."

This Sunday, the State Treasurer's Office will publish the names of people who have unclaimed funds in newspapers across Mississippi.  The office has more than $40 million that it's trying to return to the rightful owners.

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