July 27, 2012

Cart collector at North Richland Hills Sam's Club finds $9,500, gives it back

Kyle Gonzalez had only one thought when he found a bank envelope full of cash. What would you do?

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NORTH RICHLAND HILLS - If you found $9,500 in a store parking lot, what would you do?

Sam's Club cart associate Kyle Gonzalez, 24, said he had only one thought: He had to return the money.

"I've always been an honest person," Gonzalez said. "My mom raised me very well."

On Monday, the City Council celebrated the fact that some people still do the right thing by presenting Gonzalez with the Citizens Meritorious Act Award.

Councilwoman Rita Wright Oujesky and Mayor Oscar Trevino made the presentation during a council meeting.

"We appreciate you, and we appreciate your integrity," Trevino told Gonzalez.

A few weeks ago, Gonzalez was collecting shopping carts when he saw a bank envelope sitting in a shopping cart basket. He peeked in and saw the money.

He reported the cash to an assistant manager, who found the owner's name in the envelope and called him. Because Sam's Club is a membership store, employees had the man's contact information.

"That's the nice piece about our business," said Club Manager Mitch Cohen, who attended Monday's event. "We know who our shoppers are."

Mike Christensen, 41, of Paradise said he hadn't yet realized that the money was missing when he got the call.

He said he was in the store to a buy a television and other electronics equipment to donate to his church. The money is for a charity whose name Christensen said he wants to keep private.

The assistant manager asked him a series of questions while he was at a Texas Rangers game.

"That's when it clicked on me," said Christensen, who owns a welding business.

" 'I know exactly what happened,' " he told the manager. " 'You've got my bank bag, and there's $9,500.' "

Christensen said he was impressed that Gonzalez returned the money. He went to the store to personally thank him.

"It was real cool," Christensen said.

In this case, honesty paid off. Gonzalez won't be out collecting carts anymore. He received a promotion to floor merchandiser, where he will stock products, use a forklift and help customers.

Cohen said Gonzalez has been a good worker during his two years at Sam's Club, but the notoriety he received earn the store managers' attention.

"You know the funny thing is, the term pay it forward really does apply here," Cohen said. "This has brought a lot of recognition to him."

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