“Other Kids were Like, ‘Why Didn’t You Keep the Money?’ and ‘You’re Crazy,’ But I Knew It was Important to Somebody”

In 2012, an eighth-grade girl named Dakota Edwards, age 14, found a wallet with six $100 bills, credit cards, driver’s license, and ATM cards while waiting for a school bus. She said, “Like any curious person, I picked it up and looked inside, and yeah, there were some money in there. But I thought the person who lost it would probably be more worried about losing the cards and license and stuff than the money.” She handed in the wallet to Everett Bennett, the principal of Inter-Lakes Middle School in Meredith, New Hampshire, who looked in the wallet and found a receipt with the cell phone of the owner: Mark Polito, of North Reading, Massachusetts, who had lost the wallet while riding his motorcycle. Mr. Polito, a plumbing contractor who had taken money out of the bank to pay bills, said, “He [Principal Bennett] said someone had found my wallet, and I said, ‘Awesome!’ I don’t have a lot of work, so I really needed that money to pay bills that morning, but honestly, I never expected to get the money back. I was just glad someone had my stuff.” Dakota Edwards said, “Other kids were like, ‘Why didn’t you keep the money?’ and ‘You’re crazy,’ but I knew it was important to somebody; it would be important to me. I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself knowing somebody was looking for that money.” Mr. Polito arrived at the middle school later that day to pick up the wallet. He said that Principal Bennett “said the money was there, but I still didn’t expect to find all of it. For a kid to find money and return it nowadays, you just don’t expect it.” Principal Bennett said, “So often we hear about kids who do bad things these days. Dakota is just a special kind of person; when she told me all of the money was still in the wallet, I had no doubt, she is always thinking of other people.” Dakota said about the $100 reward, “I’m just enjoying having [the $100 bill]. I don’t know what to do with it.”

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