Lost and Found: Honesty Rewarded

September 21st, 2012 by Andrea Bennett

A responsible 8-year-old teaches a lesson in doing the right thing.

Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project

Everyone loves a story of someone doing something simply because it was the right thing to do. And in the case of an 8-year-old girl, doing the right thing was a matter of the utmost importance.

A Yahoo! Shine article recounts the story of Maine third-grader Abbie Jacobson, who was walking with her family into a Sam’s Club in Scarborough, Maine when she spotted a green silk purse on the ground. When she opened it, she found $4,202 worth of jewelry and cash, and a debit card belonging to someone named Ra Rim.

Upon Abbie’s insistence, the Jacobson’s searched the store, called the police and contacted the bank that had issued the debit card. The next day, as reported by the Portland Press Herald, the bank got in touch with a panicked Ra Rim and she was able to recover her money and valuables from the police.

Abbie had not returned the spare cash of a wealthy woman. In fact, Ra Rim had been imprisoned by the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, and had immigrated to southern Maine two years ago. The money that Abbie found comprised her long-earned savings, which Ra Rim intended to use for a trip back to Cambodia. She carried her money with her out of habit because of her years of experience dealing with the corrupt banking system in her homeland.

The Jacobson family could have used the money, but Abbie wasn’t willing to even consider holding onto the purse. “It never crossed her mind to keep it,” her mother Jennifer Jacobson, told Shine – though she admitted she herself had to give it a minute’s consideration. Like many families, the Jacobsons were hit hard by the recession, and Jennifer said that Abbie’s severe asthma keeps her in the hospital for days on end during the winter. “She takes a lot of medication and there are a lot of medical bills,” she explained.

But Abbie’s good deed did not go unrewarded. When a reporter from the Herald asked Abbie what she would have done with the extra cash, she replied that she would have used it to go to a Justin Bieber concert. Come November, that’s exactly where she’ll be, courtesy of The Bank of Maine (which purchased the tickets for Abbie) and Marriott Hotels & Resorts (which will be picking up the room tab for Abbie and her parents).

On top of her commendable act, Abbie plans to start a blog where kids can share inspiring stories like hers. As Abbie’s dad John Jacobson put it, “A lot of people have asked us why Abbie gave the money back. But we always taught our kids, ‘Whatever is in your heart, you do the right thing.’”

Even though Abbie was rewarded for her good deed, I’m guessing that the Justin Bieber concert won’t be the longest-lasting reward for this Good Samaritan and her family. Following Abbie’s lead, how do you inspire others to do the right thing? Weigh in here.