Canesha Blackman didn't even think to open the zippered bag she found outside a city building one day last month. The 24-year-old homeless woman just went back inside and turned it in, then returned to the task of scraping up enough change to take the bus to her job at a Checkers restaurant.

It turned out the bag belonged to a Polk County sheriff's detective and held $800 in cash. Deputy Sandy Scherer had driven off with the bag on the hood of her car. Subsequent events have changed the life of Blackman, a single mother with five children ranging in age from 6 years to 6 months, as a rather innocuous good deed has prompted a flood of goodwill from all over.

Scherer went to the Salvation Army homeless shelter where Blackman and her children were living to say thanks. A reporter for the local newspaper, the Ledger, got wind of what happened and printed a story. From there it took off, with donations and offers of other help pouring in. Weeks later it's still happening.

"People give me money on the street," marveled Blackman, who moved from Tampa to Lakeland a year ago when her marriage went sour. "I'm walking down the street, some people will just walk up and give me $20, give my kids money. They stop and talk to me. They make U-turns to talk to me."

A Tampa businessman put Blackman and her family up in a hotel until she can arrange to move into a subsidized apartment. He's also picking up her living expenses for a year and buying her a van.

More than $10,000 has been donated to her through the sheriff's office. Others gave gift cards so she can buy clothes for her kids.

"When it happened, I didn't even think anything of it," she said. "It's crazy. I've gotten letters from all over. A young girl, she's 18, she wrote me a five-page letter. I have to write her back. I have to write a lot of people back."

Scherer said Blackman is "a good-hearted person who has a lot of spirit and energy."

Life has kicked Blackman around a bit, but she figures this turn of events will help her get a leg up. She hopes to earn her high school equivalency diploma, maybe go to cosmetology school. She also hopes to pursue her lifelong dream of professional singing.