A 12-year-old Charles Reed probably would have pocketed the wallet lying on the ground at Fowler Park.
That’s why Reed is glad Hannah Chalmers, 12, found his wallet — and searched diligently to find him too — instead of a young version of himself.
“[At her age], if I found someone’s wallet with $150, no one would have known it,” Reed said. “Children need to be praised when they do good … It’s outstanding what she did.”
The Milton father was devastated when he realized on a recent Sunday afternoon that his wallet and everything in it were gone.
Reed was equally as shocked the next day, when he got a phone call at work that a young girl wanted to return it.
Chalmers, a Piney Grove Middle School student, discovered the brown wallet in some mulch while pushing her younger brother on the swings at Fowler.
“I did the right thing,” Chalmer said. “[My friends] were shocked that I gave it back. My little brother kept saying, ‘Why don’t you just take the money?’”
Her mother helped her look through the wallet and found an identification card for Reed’s workplace. When they called the office and asked for him, an overjoyed Reed took the call.
A day earlier, he had been playing catch with his son at the park. Afterward, he ate dinner with his family at a restaurant, which was when he noticed the wallet was gone.
“I left my family at the restaurant and went to my house to see if it was there. Nothing. I tore the car apart. Nothing,” he said. “It was a nightmare.”
The wallet contained credit cards, his Social Security card, $150 cash and a more sentimental item, the driver’s license of his late father.
“Everything else would have been replaceable,” he said.
Reed checked his bank account 15 times and scraped together change to get to work the next day. That evening, he picked up his wallet and met Chalmers and her family at the park.
He rewarded the young girl with $40, but her father, Chris, was so proud his daughter didn’t walk away with more money.
“You teach your kids good from bad and you never know how they’re going to react when you’re not there,” he said. “She could’ve took the money and put it in her pocket. I would’ve never known the difference.”