Leo Guarente, owner of the Junk Depot in Saugus, said a woman who asked to be identified only as Marie hired his crew to remove junk from her mother's Medford home and his workers used sledgehammers to open the chest and discovered a cache of savings bonds stamped by the Charlestown Savings Bank, the Boston Globe reported Wednesday.
The bonds had a face value of more than $20,000, but had matured to a worth of about $114,000, Guarente said.
"I could've used that $114,000 just like anyone else," Guarente said. "I haven't been on vacation in 10 years. But I did not think for one minute that I was going to keep that money."
Marie said she was ecstatic to receive the bonds.
"I was in a state of shock," she said. "I went backwards a little bit. Good thing my brother was [standing] behind me."
Guarente said he has received a flood of emails praising him for his actions and a businessman has offered to pay his phone bill for a year as a reward for returning the bonds.
"It's been great to hear all of the feedback," he said. "That's my reward."