As Confucius said: “If either wealth or poverty are come by honesty, there is no shame.” Beyond a doubt, Tommy O’Connor, a teen from Fremont, California, clearly understood this famous quote. Despite being poor himself, he chose to do the right thing when he came across a cash-filled wallet.
Tommy’s beautiful act of honesty unfolded on Sept. 1, 2015.
That day, Tommy, then an Irvington High School senior, was on his way to school as he grabbed a soda for himself and his brother at a local 7-Eleven store.
When Tommy left the convenience store, he spotted a wallet lying on the ground.
Tommy picked up the wallet, and inside, he discovered a wad of some 23 $100 bills, totaling some $2,300 in cash.
“It was like a bunch of hundreds,” O’Connor told KPIX 5.
“I didn’t count it when I saw it. I just thought it was probably someone’s rent or something.”
Tommy’s family lived month to month. Just the day before, the teen didn’t even have enough money to buy lunch.
If he kept the wallet and its contents, he could go on a shopping spree and treat himself to a good meal.
But the sensible teen decided not to put the wallet in his own pocket.
Being financially strapped himself, Tommy possibly knew how crucial the money was to its rightful owner. Hence, he couldn’t stop worrying about the person who lost the wallet.
Concerned, he kept fussing over it to his mom.
“Mom, if it doesn’t get back to the right person, they won’t pay their rent,” he told his mom, Sherry O’Connor.
Thinking “it was probably someone’s rent,” he immediately turned in the lost wallet to his para-educator, Anna Gomez, without hesitation.
“He was so concerned about finding the wallet’s owner,” Gomez told The Mercury News. “No other option even occurred to him. He immediately knew what he had to do.”
Gomez and Tommy then found a Veteran’s Identification Card with a name on it in the wallet. With the information, they consulted Irvington Principal Sarah Smoot, who helped contact the veteran.
Subsequently, the wallet was returned to its rightful owner—the veteran.
It turned out Tommy was right. The unnamed veteran had wanted to pay his rent using the money. Grateful, he rewarded Tommy with $50 for his honesty.
Celebrating🎈🎈🎈🎈Love my boys❤❤❤❤
The story of Tommy’s honesty eventually made the news. His parents and teacher told news outlets that they were incredibly proud of him.
“With us living month-to-month, it is a big chunk of money and I’m so proud of him that he did that,” said Tommy’s dad, Ron O’Connor.
“I’m just proud that he did the right thing, and hopefully all of my children would’ve done the same thing,” the father added.
“Tommy has always been that kind of person—he’s very empathetic to other students,” Dipa Kalra, Tommy’s physical science teacher, said. “I called his mother and told her she should be proud. He never thought of himself, only what the wallet’s owner was feeling.”
To show her love, Sherry O’Connor sent her son a sweet text message:”I’m very proud of you son. Ms. Kalra called me. Wow your [sic] one in a million. Love you to the moon and back.”
And Tommy’s reply?
“You should be thanking yourself You raised me. I’m just doing something I wish everyone else would do,” he wrote to his mom.
Wow! This young lad is so sensible and noble for returning the lost wallet in spite of his family’s financial circumstances.
We should all learn from this fine gentleman! Ron and Sherry O’Connor have truly done a great job in instilling the value of honesty in their son.
If Tommy chose to take the money that didn’t belong to him, he probably wouldn’t feel at ease. By doing the right thing, the teen might have helped save the veteran from financial hardship.
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