For a minute or two, the two teenage girls pondered what to do with the wallet they found.
Inside it was $1,000 — 10 crisp, $100 bills that smelled like heaven to the 16-year-olds.
A male friend urged them to split the loot three ways.
The girls swear they didn’t give much thought to what they should do next.
“I wouldn’t feel right buying something with someone else’s money,” said Marina Zaky.
Added her friend, Samantha Madrid: “If it was me and I had lost my wallet, I wouldn’t want the person to take my money.”
Marina and Samantha found the wallet June 24, 2014 at a volleyball tournament at Garden Grove High School. A friend had dropped a cell phone that ended up beneath the bleachers.
Samantha crawled under the bleachers to get the phone. The light from Marina’s cell phone above also illuminated a wallet.
The girls, who attend Santiago High School, walked over to the Garden Grove PD to turn in the wallet. Word soon got around the station about the two teens who resisted the temptation to spend the discovered greenbacks on themselves.
For their unselfish act, Marina and Samantha received a Chief’s Coin for Merit — among 111 coin recipients for 2014.
The girls were among 77 recipients recognized Feb. 4 at a dinner featuring newly installed Police Chief Todd Elgin and retired Chief Kevin Raney, as well as city officials.
“You have gone beyond the expectations of what a good citizen is, and that’s what building community is all about,” Garden Grove Mayor Bao Nguyen said in brief comments to the crowd.
Raney launched the Chief’s Coin for Merit program in 2011 to recognize Good Samaritans for acts ranging from chasing after armed robbers to aiding accident victims to serving as good eyewitnesses.
Raney said the coin program has helped strengthen ties between Garden Grove residents and police officers.
“It’s not an us-against-them philosophy anymore,” Raney told the crowd. “It’s a ‘we.’”
Elgin said the fourth-annual Chief’s Coin for Merit recognition dinner is one of his favorite functions.
“Law enforcement is often painted with a broad brush,” Elgin said, “but the Garden Grove Police Department is all about community.”
Samantha said even her father was surprised she and Marina turned in the money.
“Why would you turn that in?” he asked her. “I could use that money for bills.”
But he quickly added: “I’m proud of you.”
Brian Kelly, the owner of the wallet, awarded Samantha and Marina $100 each.
They used the money as many teen girls would: hitting the mall to buy some clothes.
Wearing the new clothes felt like a million bucks.