Sunday, December 31, 2006

Focus On The Good

The following article, written by Erik German, appeared in Newsday on Dec. 17. Good deeds occur everyday, but so many people want to hear only bad or shocking news. There are good people in the world, doing good things. If we focus on the good that is being done, while still maintaining an awareness of the bad, we'd be in much better spirits.

Teen finds, returns $24K in movie theater

Imagine stumbling upon $24,000 cash. What would you do with the money?

The untraceable wad of $100 bills, rubber-banded together inside a zippered bank pouch, tumbled unnoticed from the purse of RoseMarie Limoncelli, 39, as she sat Friday inside the AMC Fantasy theater in Rockville Centre.

Christopher Montgomery, 19, found the money as he was cleaning between seats.

The Lynbrook student returned it. Every dollar.

"I was shocked," Limoncelli said. "It's so commendable to see a teenager do something so wonderful for someone else. My life could have been flipped upside down."

Montgomery, a liberal arts student at Nassau Community College, yesterday was reluctant to talk about his choice.

"He won't come out; he's not the type of kid that likes attention," said his mother, Donna Montgomery, 49, outside the family's Lynbrook home. "He said, 'It's no big deal.' I think he's embarrassed."

But for the Hewlett woman who nearly lost the $24,000, it was a very big deal indeed. Before recovering the cash, Limoncelli endured what amounted to a brief waking nightmare.

Limoncelli runs a business, and like many this time of year, she's been a bit harried lately.

"It's the holidays and I'm running in all different directions and trying to do my shopping in between," she said.

On Friday, she still hadn't made it to the bank when it came time to accompany her 8-year-old daughter, Sabrina, to see "Happy Feet" at 7:15 p.m.

Halfway through the film, Sabrina climbed onto Limoncelli's lap. To make room for her daughter, Limoncelli slid the purse under her seat, where it tipped over. The bank pouch must have fallen out in the dark, she said.

On the way home, mother and daughter stopped for ice cream. In line at the cash register, pint of Häagen-Dazs in hand, Limoncelli made the the blood-chilling discovery. The deposit bag was gone.

"My heart stopped," she said. "My whole body was shaking."

Frantic, she called her husband at home. The money wasn't there. She dialed information for the movie theater's number -- and was apoplectic when they placed her on hold.

"It was like the longest two minutes of my life," she said. "I screamed at the operator when she tried to give me the address and I said, 'I don't care, just give me the number!' ... I was hysterical, crying."

When she called the theater, Limoncelli experienced the holiday miracle she will likely recount for years to come.

After examining the cash, Christopher Montgomery had handed the pouch over to his manager.

Limoncelli said he refused a cash reward, but she hopes he'll at least accept a gift certificate to P.C. Richard & Son.

"I always tell my kids, 'I believe: a good deed -- you do one, you get one in return,'" Donna Montgomery said.

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