What’s the Matter with Kids, Today?

Published: December 3, 2008

By Jim Lichtman
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On November 13, a 17-year-old grocery bagger, found a brown, canvas money bag in the bathroom of the supermarket where he works.  When he opened it, he found $10,000 in cash.

According to McClatchy Newspapers, the bag was “Stuffed with 50- and hundred-dollar bills… the life savings of a Vancouver, Washington man who accidentally left it in the men’s bathroom at the Top Food & Drug in Federal Way.

“Moisei Baraniuc, a senior at Todd Beamer High School in Federal Way… just put the bag on the counter and washed his hands while he thought.  ‘The first thing that went through my mind was keeping it,’ he said.  “And then the Ukrainian immigrant remembered what his father, Vitalie Baraniuc, always says at dinner at the family’s home.

“My dad is always telling us in this life you’ve got to work for yourself. If you take what doesn’t belong to you, it will catch up to you.”

“Instead,” McClatchy reported “what caught up with him was the man who lost the money, Fred W. Smith, who paid a grateful visit to the supermarket Wednesday evening.

“Federal Way police [praised] Baraniuc.  ‘That was great,’ said Cmdr. Stan McCall. ‘I think that’s very honest and shows a great deal of integrity.’

“Baraniuc works 15 hours a week after school to pay for gas and other expenses,” earning minimum wage. “He and his family came to the United States five years ago with $300.  He teaches 10-year-olds in Sunday school at First Ukrainian Baptist Church in the Federal Way area. That’s another reason he knew he had to return the money.”

“I can’t be teaching little kids not to do it if I’m doing it,” he said.

“…Baraniuc said that [Fred] Smith walked into the store looking for him at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.  The man thanked the teen for returning the money and took down his address.

‘I’ll send you a little reward,’ Smith told the teen.

“Right now,” Baraniuc said, “I have everything I need.”

In the same month, at a Goodwill store in Glen Carbon, Illinois, Teodora Petrova, “A newcomer to the United States from Bulgaria…” on her first day of work, found $7,500 in cash inside a pair of old shoes that were donated.

Goodwill said that they “…found the family through hints on scraps of paper left in the box….

“The family has offered Petrova a gift for turning over the money.”

There are stories of honesty and integrity out there.  They just don’t make the front page.


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