John Patriquin / courtesy Portland Press Herald
Abbie Jacobson found a purse lost by Cambodian immigrant Ra Rim, and made sure it was returned intact.
John Patriquin / courtesy of Portland Press Herald
Ra Rim's purse contained American and Cambodian cash, jewelry, and the debit card that helped track her down.
What’s the reward for turning $4,000 in missing cash found on the street? If you’re 8-year-old Abbie Jacobson, it’s a handful of tickets to see singer Justin Bieber, a prize that's, to her, every bit as valuable as the money.
The third-grader from Scarborough, Maine became the center of attention in August when The Portland Press Herald ran a news story detailing how she discovered a purse in the parking lot of a Sam’s Club, and turned it into her parents. The purse contained approximately $4,200 in rolled-up dollar bills, some Cambodian money, heirloom gold jewelry and -- thankfully for the owner -- a bank debit card. Jacobson was determined to track down the person who'd lost the purse, and her parents were able to return the missing items by reaching out to the local police department and bank.
Fortunately for young Abbie, after reading her story in the paper, one man was so taken aback he decided to reward her with tickets to see her favorite singer.
“After [reporter] Bill Nemitz did the interview, we were just talking, ‘Oh Abbie, if you did have $4,000 dollars, what would you buy?’” her mother Jenn recalled to NBC News. “She said I would buy Justin Bieber tickets, and we started laughing. It was so cute, but we didn’t know he was going to print it.”
Abbie's dream came to the attention of John Everets, CEO of the Bank of Maine, who, according to Jenn, brought the article to a bank board meeting with the intention of “making this little girl’s dream come true.” Shortly after, Abbie was hooked up with five tickets to see her favorite pop star this November in Boston.
“Abbie has always been in love with Justin Bieber since she was three years old,” her mother explains. “Her sister listened to him and she just fell in love. Even when all her classmates used to tease her about liking Justin, or wearing his T-shirt to school, she did not care…She has turned a lot of little girls into Bieber fans.”
But Abbie wasn't expecting any reward. She was much more concerned about how losing the small fortune might affect someone else’s life. When the young girl first noticed the purse on the ground, she immediately handed it to her father, John, a landscape architect, who in turn notified his wife. Eventually, they were able to identify the owner Ra Rim, a Cambodian immigrant who moved to the U.S. less than two years ago.
According to the Press Herald, Ra speaks no English and was planning to use the money to return to her home country to visit family, and had and dropped her wallet while out running errands. She now refers to Abbie as her “angel,” and both families have become friends, even sharing their life stories with one another.
And, of course, Abbie gets to go see Bieber for her first live concert experience ever.
“She started sobbing and she just hugged me,” Jen says, describing Abbie’s reaction when heard the news. “I said, ‘Are those happy tears?’ She said, ‘Yes Momma.’ She couldn’t believe it, she was so overwhelmed.”
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