Three South Jersey teens were honored for their honesty after they found thousands of dollars on the ground and returned the money to the school it belonged to.
Fabian Villanueva, 14, was walking in Vineland, New Jersey last December when he found a clear envelope holding more than $17,000 in cash and checks behind a fence and covered with leaves outside of a home.
“I just panicked,” Fabian said. “I couldn’t believe what I saw.”
Fabian, a freshman at Cumberland County Technical Education Center, showed the money to his older brother Nichael Villanueva and his friend Christopher Diaz.
“My mom and my dad always taught me, what’s not yours you’ve got to hand it back,” Fabian said.
And that’s exactly what the three teens did. Diaz’s father called police who took the money and gave it to the school it belonged to, the Vineland Campus of the Spanish Eastern School of Theology (SEST).
Breaking news and the stories that matter to your neighborhood.
“It wasn’t hard because it wasn’t ours to keep,” Nichael said. “And that’s a lot of money so that could’ve been important.”
The school’s financial secretary Noreen Bermudez lives across the street from where Fabian found the money. She was distraught when she realized the money was missing from her car before she could deposit it. She told NBC10 she was moved to tears when she found out the teens returned it to the school.
“There really aren’t any words to express how grateful I am for what they did,” she said. “It was so honorable.”
The three teens were commended for their actions during Vineland’s city council meeting Tuesday night.