Volume 75, Number 11 | August 3 - 9, 2005

Good Samaritan, 19, helps keeps the juice flowing

By Lauren Dzura

Ashley Eliza, 19, realized she found something that didn’t belong in the 99-cent store on First Avenue between Fourth and Fifth Sts. when on Mon. July 25 she stumbled upon a small purse sitting out in the open in front of the cash register. There was money sticking out of it, and Eliza put the money back inside and closed it. She asked shoppers if it belonged to them, but no one claimed it and there was no form of identification inside the bag.

“I was joking with a lady about us keeping the money if no one was going to come and get it,” Eliza said.

The shop owner stated that since the bag didn’t apparently belong to anyone in the store, he would hold onto it, Eliza said.

Eliza called her mother for advice. Following her mom’s counsel, she went and found a security guard from her building, Village View, across the street, to help her take the money to the police.

The guard called the police to let them deal with the situation. Once the police officers finally got a hold of the purse, they took down Eliza’s information and went back to the Ninth Precinct with the purse. The security guard started telling people on the sidewalk outside the building about the incident, and, as fate would have it, the rightful owner of the money happened to pass by.

Rene Hendrix, owner of Juicy Lucy juice shop and Spanish lunch counter on Avenue A at Fifth St., overheard the discussion as she was on her way to the bank and retrieved the purse — which contained the rent money for her store — at the precinct.

Hendrix got Eliza’s information from the police and called her to thank her for the good Samaritan act. She also gave Eliza a mug and a $50 gift certificate from her store as well as a $50 bill.

“Everyone’s been calling me an idiot for returning it,” Eliza said. “But it wasn’t my money and I didn’t feel right keeping it.”

This fall Eliza will start her second year at Borough of Manhattan Community College and works at Abercrombie and Fitch at the South Street Seaport to support herself.

Eliza’s mother, Cindy Gonzalez, is proud of her daughter and said that her actions will let people see teenagers as more than thugs and drug addicts.

“There’s some good kids out there with integrity,” Gonzalez said.

Hendrix requested that the amount of money in the purse not be published.

“She was great,” she said of Eliza. “She’s a wonderful girl. It’s nice to know people are honest. She really saved me.”

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