When Janet Denkers asked the children at Brooke Central School what they would do if they found over $6,000 in cash the first answer was not too surprising: “Keep it!” shouted one young student. “Give it to people who need it,” said another. “Give it to Jump Rope for Heart,” another replied.
The Clerk-Administrator of Brooke-Alvinston wasn’t asking the students the question just to make conversation during a Friday assembly. Denkers told the students it was the real-life dilemma one of their schoolmates faced.
In February, Ericka LaPier and her mom were walking on River Street in Alvinston. They were headed to the park to play on the swings, six-year-old Ericka says, when she spotted an envelope in the snow. They opened it and found $6,675 inside.
They weren’t too far from the municipal office, so they stopped in and handed the envelope over saying “if no one claims it, let’s give it to the food bank.”
Someone did claim it. The money had been taken from a truck. The owner was planning to purchase some equipment for his business and was happy to have it back.
Friday, as part of Education Week, the school, municipality, Lambton County and the OPP honoured the six-year-old for her honesty.
“I want to honour you for your honesty and integrity,” Lambton County Warden Bev MacDougall told the young girl. “For giving back the money you found you’re a leader.”
Mayor Don McGugan agreed saying honesty is always the best thing. “Boys and girls doing the right thing is always the right thing to do.”
He added Ericka was lucky to have her mother along side her that day and she obviously had taught the Alvinston girl what was the right thing to do. “As you get to be an adult there are many temptations; when I face them I think what would I do if my mother was beside me?”
Principal Carla Wilson praised Ericka saying “you are only in Grade One and you showed great leadership.”
McGugan says the six year old refused a reward, but he presented her with a gift card to Toys R Us and her mother was given a planter full of flowers as thanks for the good deed.