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April 07. 2012 12:25PM

Meredith student returns wallet with $600 to owner


Dakota Edwards, an Inter-Lakes eighth-grader, found a wallet with $600 in it and turned it in to her principal. (DAN SEUFERT PHOTO)
CENTER HARBOR - As Dakota Edwards waited at her Route 25B school bus stop on a recent Monday morning, a leather wallet in the roadside dirt caught her eye.

Inside it, she found credit cards, ATM cards, a Massachusetts driver's license, some receipts, and, to her surprise, six $100 bills.

Dakota, 14, an eighth-grader at Inter-Lakes Middle School in Meredith, did what any good person would so, she says. She brought the wallet to school, just as she had found it, and turned it into her principal,

“Like any curious person, I picked it up and looked inside, and yeah, there were some money in there,” she said. “But I thought the person who lost it would probably be more worried about losing the cards and license and stuff than the money.”

Earlier that morning, Mark Polito of North Reading, Mass., was riding his motorcycle along Route 25B after a weekend at his family's summer camp on Moultonborough Neck. A plumbing contractor, Polito had been working on a job in the area and was on his way home with cash that he had just drawn from his bank to pay some due bills.

On the way through Center Harbor, he heard some noise from his visor pocket. He later stopped on the highway and found his wallet was missing, and called the Center Harbor police in hopes that someone would turn it in.

A few hours later, he got a call from Inter-Lakes Middle School Principal Everett Bennett, who had contacted the police about the wallet and was given Polito's phone number.

“He said someone had found my wallet, and I said, ‘Awesome!'” Politio said. “I don't have a lot of work so I really needed that money to pay bills that morning, but honestly, I never expected to get the money back. I was just glad someone had my stuff.”

Dakota Edwards said there was nothing unusual about her good deed. “Other kids were like, ‘Why didn't you keep the money?' and ‘You're crazy,' but I knew it was important to somebody, it would be important to me. I wouldn't have been able to live with myself knowing somebody was looking for that money.”

When Polito arrived at the high school later that day, he was pleasantly surprised. “(Bennett) said the money was there, but I still didn't expect to find all of it,” Polito said. “For a kid to find money and return it nowadays, you just don't expect it.”

“So often we hear about kids who do bad things these days,” Bennett said. “Dakota is just a special kind of person, when she told me all of the money was still in the wallet, I had no doubt, she is always thinking of other people.”

After leaving the wallet with the principal, Edwards didn't expect to hear about it again. But Polito asked to meet her, which came as a surprise. “I was content, I didn't think I'd done anything important,” she said.

Polito shook her hand, gave her a kiss on the cheek, and gave her one of the six $100 bills.

“She deserved more,” he said.

Edwards hasn't spent the $100 yet. She hopes to be an artist and photographer, so she may use the money for art equipment.

“I'm just enjoying having (the $100 bill). I don't know what to do with it,” she said with a big smile.

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