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Woman's Honesty Rewarded

September 09, 2001|From Associated Press

SAVANNAH, Ga. — Wanda Johnson, a single mother of five struggling to pay her bills, is getting a big helping hand after she returned $120,000 in cash that fell from an armored car.

Johnson, 34, was driving to pawn her television Wednesday so she could pay her electric bill when an armored car turned a corner ahead of her, spilling a large plastic bag in the street.

Johnson picked the money up and went on to work at her job as a housekeeper at Memorial Hospital. After work, she went to her pastor's home and he encouraged her to return the cash.

"It's really all about God, putting him first," Johnson said Friday during a news conference at SunTrust Bank. She said she had prayed about her financial troubles, and viewed the lost money as a test of her faith.

"I said, 'How in the world is this going to work out?' And he did it," Johnson said.

SunTrust gave Johnson $5,000, half in a check and the rest deposited to an account in her name for others to donate on Johnson's behalf.

The armored car company, EM Security of Savannah, gave Johnson a reward and donated to her church. The company's chief executive officer, Richard Estus, declined to name the amounts. "We gave her at least what the bank gave her," he said.

SunTrust and the security company said they want people to know that good deeds reap rewards.

Though the companies' money is insured against theft and loss, the policies come with steep deductibles.

"We wanted to reward and reinforce somebody standing up and doing the right thing," said SunTrust Savannah President William D. Haile, who gave Johnson her check for $2,500.

"If we can reinforce when people do the right thing, that money will come back to us many, many times."

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