A 98-year-old Whanganui woman who accidentally left almost $300 in a handbag donated to a charity shop has been reunited with her money.

When staff at the St John opportunity shop in Whanganui discovered a sizeable sum of cash in a handbag last week, they realised something was not quite right.

They suspected the money had been left there by mistake and decided to try to return it.

The man who donated the bag had also given the shop a distinctive white dress, and shop manager Fiona Sibbald asked the Wanganui Chronicle to run a photo of the dress, along with a plea for the man to return to the shop.

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"He missed the initial plea on Monday but saw the note in the Chronicle briefs section on Thursday and made contact," Ms Sibbald said.

"He phoned up to see what it was all about as he had no idea something had been left in the handbag."

The man called in to the shop and collected the $275 cash which he said belonged to his 98-year-old mother, who resides in a rest home.

"The gentleman, who wishes to remain anonymous, was very surprised and grateful that we went to so much effort to find him," said Ms Sibbald.

"St John have a strong belief in their values, one of which is 'Do the right thing'.We are all very happy with the outcome."

Profits made at the Ingestre St shop, which opened in 2014, go towards local St John youth programmes, purchasing new ambulances and health shuttles, and buying vital new equipment.