Found cash brings out Exeter boy's best
EXETER — Max Parenti didn't know what to think when he found a bank deposit bag filled with a wad of cash totaling $1,450 sitting in the grass at a local park.
All the 8-year-old boy knew was that he had to do the right thing.
"It's good to give stuff back," said Max, a third-grader at Chester Academy.
Max's good deed was recognized this week when he was honored by police and given a $100 reward by Dennis and Cheri Smith, the owners of Puddlejumpers children's shop in downtown Exeter.
It was Cheri Smith who said she made a "careless mistake" when she accidentally dropped the money bag in Founder's Park last month after closing up her store and walking to her car.
She remembered having her hands full that day, between the money bag, other boxes, her purse, a cell phone and her dog.
"I used to be able to multi-task more effectively," she said with a laugh.
Smith had no idea that she dropped the bag in the park, but she's glad Max and his dad, Guy Parenti of Exeter, came along a short time later and scooped it up.
Max said he and Dad were taking their dog, Henry, for a walk downtown when he noticed a green bag in the tall grass in the park.
"It was kind of hard to see it," Max recalled.
Max ran over and picked up the bag. He took a look inside and found lots and lots of bills. He said there were $50 bills, $20s and other smaller ones.
"I thought it was just going to be nothing, maybe just some paper," he said.
There was definitely some paper, but not the kind he expected.
"I heard him make a gasp and he said, 'Dad, look!'" Parenti said.
Max was used to finding quarters, nickels and dimes, his dad said, but not wads of cash.
The find was made late in the day, so Max and his father took the money home, counted it out, and figured they would bring it to the police department the following day.
Max had school that day so his father handed the money over to police.
It didn't take too long for police to trace the money back to Puddlejumpers.
Parenti used the experience as a teachable moment for his young son.
"I said, 'If we keep that money it's not that different from stealing that money.' It's not finders keepers. It's just not the way I want to raise him," Parenti said.
Smith said she planned to deposit the money and would have eventually discovered it missing.
"It would have been really easy to put that in their pocket," she said.
Police Capt. William Shupe also praised Max and his father for their honesty.
"This young man took some advice from his father and because of him the rightful owner got their property back. That's the definition of ethics. It's to do the right thing even when no one is looking," Shupe said.
Max's kind act also earned him kudos at Chester Academy.
"We're very proud about what Max did," said Leslie Leahy, school principal.
As for the $100 reward, Max is still trying to figure out how he'll spend it.
"I'll probably buy some Pixie Stix," he said.