2012-11-02 / Front Page

School applauds act of ‘integrity’

Wentworth School student finds $4,000 and turns it in
By Michael Kelley Staff Writer


Abbie Jacobson, center, was recognized last week at Wentworth Intermediate School for her efforts earlier this year in getting a purse full of money and valuables back to Ra Rim. Attending the ceremony, from left, were , Chansatha Meas, Rim, San Meas, Jacobson and her mother, Jennifer, her father, John, brother, Zachary and sister, Katrina (not pictured). (Michael Kelley photo) Abbie Jacobson, center, was recognized last week at Wentworth Intermediate School for her efforts earlier this year in getting a purse full of money and valuables back to Ra Rim. Attending the ceremony, from left, were , Chansatha Meas, Rim, San Meas, Jacobson and her mother, Jennifer, her father, John, brother, Zachary and sister, Katrina (not pictured). (Michael Kelley photo) When Abbie Jacobson found and returned a purse with $4,000 in it while shopping with her parents at Sam’s Club in April, she did so because she just thought it was the right thing to do.

She never expected the gesture to turn into a surprise pep rally in her honor.

On Friday, Oct. 26, Jacobson’s classmates and peers gathered at the cafeteria at Wentworth Intermediate School to celebrate Jacobson’s others-before-me attitude.

The celebration was organized by Chad Daggett, a manager at Sam’s Club, as a way to honor Jacobson’s actions.

“This is such a great event for us – a company built on integrity,” Daggett said before surprising Jacobson during the lunch hour. “Abbie found this large amount of money and property and insisted they find who it belonged to and worked hard to do so. It is great that we can reward this type of behavior.”

Jacobson started that routine trip to Sam’s Club a normal 8-year-old girl, but ended it as the saving grace for Ra Rim and her family, who live in Westbrook.

John Jacobson said he and his daughter originally stayed in the car while his wife, Jennifer, went into the store to do some shopping. However Abbie Jacobson soon decided she wanted to go into the store to join her mother, so they began heading toward the building’s front entrance.

“I was holding her hand and, as we were walking, she stopped near the entrance of the building,” John Jacobson recalled. “She said to me, ‘I think somebody dropped something. I saw something in the parking lot.’ We headed back towards the parking lot and it amazes me no one saw it. There were $100 bills on the pavement next to a zipper purse.”

John Jacobson said he picked up the purse and looked around, but could not find anyone who may have dropped the purse.

“We didn’t see anyone who might have dropped it either in the parking lot or going into the store,” he said. The purse, he said, had no photo identification. It did have some jewelry and a debit card with the name Ra Rim on it.

Jacobson said his daughter was adamant about finding whose purse it was the moment she saw it in the parking lot. Because of the contents of the purse, Jacobson said he “hesitated to take it to one of the cashiers.” Instead he called the Scarborough Police, who came and picked up the purse, but could not locate Rim on site.

That night, Jacobson said, Abbie kept asking about the purse and worrying about it getting back to Rim. The next morning his wife called the credit union that had issued the debit card to explain what happened. The credit union was able to reach Rim and the purse was returned.

It turns out the purse contained money Rim planned to use to travel with her family back to Cambodia.

Chansatha Meas, Rim’s daughter, said the trip, which was to take place mere days after the purse was lost, would not have been possible without Abbie Jacobson acting the way she did. Meas said her mother’s purse contained not only money for their family back in Cambodia, but for other families as well.

“This meant a lot to us and to the other families,” said Meas, who is a student at Southern Maine Community College.

Had the purse been found by someone else, the incident could have had a much different outcome. The experience has created a lifelong bond between the two families.

“I’m glad the way it happened,” Meas said. “Otherwise we wouldn’t have met. We are from the other end of the world. Without this happening, we never know each other.”

“We have learned a lot about their culture, their history, the civil war in their country, and about how they arrived,” John Jacobson said.

The Jacobsons hope the story will inspire others to act the same way when they find something on the sidewalk.

“To me the message is the golden rule – treat people the way you want to be treated,” John Jacobson said.

Wentworth Intermediate School Principal Anne Mayre Dexter said that is a message the school’s teachers and staff constantly try to instill in the students.

“We talk a lot about what people should do and this is a major example how someone is supposed to behave,” Dexter said.

For her role in getting the purse back to Rim, Abbie Jacobson got more than a few kind words thrown her way. The Bank of Maine provided her and her family with tickets to a Justin Bieber concert. Custom Coach and Limousine has donated roundtrip transportation to the concert and Marriott of Boston a one-night stay with meals included.

Sam’s Club also provided the school with a $1,500 grant and a 2012 American Doll package complete with the McKenna doll Abbie begged her parents for, along with some of the doll’s clothing and accessories.

Abbie Jacobson said she was “really excited” about the concert tickets and the American Doll, but most of all she was “proud” of what she did.

“It is something you don’t hear about everyday,” said Francis Beaulieu, an employee at Sam’s Club who was on hand for the ceremony. “It’s a great chance for people to hear what an 8-year-old can do.”

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