“She Never Asked if We Could Keep It—Not Even Just in Passing. It was All About, ‘Whose is It? Where are They? How can We Find Them?’”

In the spring of 2012, Abbie Jacobson, age eight, found a small, green purse overflowing with money near Sam’s Club in Scarborough, Maine. What was her first thought? She said, “We need to find who dropped it. Because I wouldn’t want to lose all that money and have someone take it. It was a lot of money!” In the purse were many $100 bills, a debit card, and several pieces of heirloom gold jewelry. Who lost the purse? Ra Rim, a Cambodian woman, who had come to Maine a couple of years ago. She intended to use the money in the purse for a trip for her and her husband back to Cambodia, but she had lost the purse—which contained $4,202—doing some last-minute errands. Ms. Rim said, in Cambodian, with her daughter, Chansatha Meas, translating, “I felt like I was going to faint. I felt like there was no hope I would ever get it back.” Were Abbie’s parents tempted—even a little—to keep the money? Jenn, Abbie’s mother, said, “I spent it 30 times over [in my imagination] in about 10 seconds.” John, Abbie’s father, said, “Hey, we’re human like everyone else.” He added about Abbie, “She never wondered, even in fantasy, what she or we would do with the money if we kept it. It just never crossed her mind.” He added, “She never asked if we could keep it—not even just in passing. It was all about, ‘Whose is it? Where are they? How can we find them?’” Abbie said, “I just felt sad for the people who lost it.” John looked inside the purse and saw the debit card; it was from University Credit Union and bore the name “Ra Rim.” They told Jenn about the purse and money, and then the Jacobson family called the Scarborough Police Department and handed the purse and money in. Of course, the family felt empathy for whoever had lost the money. Jenn said, “We were all sick to our stomachs that somebody had lost so much. I couldn’t sleep—I was up all night.” Abbie said, “I was worried.” The police quickly located Ra Rim and returned her purse and money to her. The Jacobson family and the Rim family met for lunch at the Minami Japanese Grill in South Portland, Maine, before Ra Rim and her husband, San, returned to Cambodia for a visit. Ms. Ran hugged Abbie. The Jacobsons learned that the Rims had survived the horrors of the Khmer Rouge before coming to America. After the Rims returned from Cambodia, the two families met again for a meal. San said about Abbie and his wife’s purse, “I will keep this purse as a memory of her. Even though there is no money in it anymore, the memory of Abbie will always be inside.” After Abbie’s heartwarming story appeared in the Portland Press Herald, John Everets, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of The Bank of Maine, bought tickets to a Justin Bieber concert for Abbie and members of her family, and the Marriott Residence Inn in Boston donated the use of a suite for Abbie and her family to spend the night after the concert.

For More Information: Bill Nemitz, “In Abbie’s world, a purse belongs to its rightful owner.” Portland Press Herald (Maine). 29 August 2012 <http://www.pressherald.com/news/in-abbies-world-a-found-purse-belongs-to-its-rightful-owner_2012-08-29.html?searchterm=Abbie+Jacobson>. Also: “Good Deed = Justin Bieber Tickets.” Pollstar. 31 August 2012 <http://www.pollstar.com/news_article.aspx?ID=802588>.

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