Admiring holiday sights and sounds is often an enriching experience, to say the least. It tends to fill you with wonder and excitement, infusing your spirit with feelings of seasonal festivity.
Literal riches aren’t normally part of the equation, of course. But for one young California couple, some serious pocket change recently made a surprise appearance.
Twenty-four-year-old Gabriel Ruiz and Gabriela Jauregui were out on Christmas night, enjoying the sparkling holiday light displays in the Naples neighborhood of Long Beach, California. Along the way, they stopped to take a quick photo.
“We turned around, and there’s a backpack on a seat,” Jauregui told KCBS-TV in Los Angeles. Upon further inspection, it actually turned out to be a diaper bag.
According to KCBS-TV, the couple waited a bit to see if the rightful owner might return. When nobody appeared, they looked inside the bag for some identification.
And they found a whole lot more.
The bag’s internal compartment contained some sort of pocketbook. “We saw the wallet, opened that up, and then there was just a ton of money in there,” recalled Ruiz.
To be exact, the wallet actually contained a whopping $5,000. And what young couple couldn’t use that kind of dough?
But instead of hurrying home with their unexpected haul, Ruiz and Jauregui spent the rest of the night trying to track down the bag’s rightful owner. At first, it was anything but easy.
In addition to the money, the wallet contained a passport and some other identification. But Jauregui noted that the names were in Vietnamese, “and there was no address on the passport.”
Meanwhile, as the couple continued scouring the area, a distraught Vietnamese man was having quite the sleepless night. He asked KCBS-TV not to use his name, but that bag belonged to his family.
As a student attending a local Southern California university, that money represented almost every single cent the man had. “I thought, how can I get back to my country? How can I pay my tuition?” he said.
He explained to KCBS-TV that on Christmas evening, he’d gone to Naples with his wife and infant daughter to enjoy the festivities. They’d put down their bag to take a photo in the exact same spot as Ruiz and Jauregui.
And then, in the ensuing bustle to gather up their things, the bag was accidentally forgotten.
But Ruiz and Jauregui refused to be discouraged in their quest to do the right thing. Continuing to search the bag as night crept toward morning, they eventually discovered a hidden compartment.
“There was a bunch of papers with all the information we needed — a phone number, a name, and an address,” explained Jauregui.
So in the morning, they called the Vietnamese man and asked him to describe the bag in detail. He did, and the couple headed straight to his residence.
Smiling with quiet satisfaction, they then presented the bag and all its contents to their rightful owner. “Oh my God, I’m still shaking,” the overjoyed Vietnamese man exclaimed. “You just saved my life. Can I have a hug please?”
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