Goodwill is everywhere during the holidays at the county courthouse. Collection barrels for Toys for Tots, the district attorney's Holiday Coat Drive and SPCA Holiday Drive and the Lt. Patty Simons Law Enforcement Food Drive dot the courthouse hallways and are filling up fast, signs of generosity among employees and visitors to the courthouse.
|Christmas at the courthouse/Photo by Carl Hessler Jr.|
But two courthouse employees recently gave new meaning to "goodwill toward men" and "paying it forward."
Anne Schools and Susie Sobotka, two Court Administration employees well-known at the courthouse for their contagious sense of humor, often joked as they left work and passed the ATM on the plaza level, “Look, there’s a $20, grab it!” But on one particular day last month, it was no joke.
“I said, ‘Susie there really is a twenty in there,’” Schools, a writ clerk, recalled. “We looked and it happened to be $40. It was lying right in the tray. I was shocked because we always joke about it. To see it, was like, ‘Oh my God!’ We decided we better go to security because it belonged to somebody.”
|Susie Sobotka (on left) & Anne Schools/Photo by Carl Hessler Jr.|
“Ever since the ATM machines were placed at the courthouse we’ve joked about it. I ran over and I pulled it out, and there were two twenties,” Sobotka, a receptionist, recalled. “Couldn’t believe it.”
While some surely would have pocketed such a find, Schools and Sobotka took the money to courthouse security officials for safekeeping.
In the meantime, later that evening, Elizabeth Oreo, court clerk for President Judge William J. Furber Jr., was at a restaurant and when it came time to pay her bill she realized the $40 she had withdrawn from the ATM, and thought she had put in her purse, was nowhere to be found. A sinking feeling came over her when she realized she had taken her ATM receipt but never collected the cash that dropped into the ATM tray.
The following day, Oreo, believing it was a longshot she would ever see her cash again, checked with security officials and learned that Schools and Sobotka had turned it in.
“I was so happy and flabbergasted to find out cash that I withdrew from the ATM machine, and I thought was lost, was returned to me,” Oreo told me recently. “I was shocked that the money was returned to me, but after finding out the names of the two employees that found the money and did this good deed by turning it in to security, I was not.
|Elizabeth Oreo/Mercury Photo by Carl Hessler Jr.|
“Once again, honesty is the best policy and two of our Montgomery County employees, Anne and Susan, are proof of that,” Oreo added. “So kudos to Anne and Susan and thank you again for all you do!”
Oreo was so grateful she showed her own kindness and generosity by offering to treat Schools and Sobotka to lunch with a cash reward, which they would not accept. Instead Schools and Sobotka suggested donating the reward money to charity, specifically the Toys for Tots program overseen by the sheriff’s department. Oreo loved the idea.
“I think it’s wonderful to pay it forward. I’m glad that it’s going to go to help the unfortunate children for Christmas, to make their Christmas a little brighter,” Sobotka said.
“We paid it forward,” Schools added. “It makes me feel great. 'Tis the season, right?”
Indeed Anne and Susie and Liz. You all did good things and are shining examples of the kindness and generosity that should abound during the holiday season. May you all find the joy you so richly deserve this holiday season and be treated with the same kindness you deliver to others year round.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS, EVERYONE!