Beaver County Sheriff , Beaver County Sheriff
Minersville resident Austin Carter, left, receives the "Distinguished Citizen Award" from Beaver County Sheriff Cameron Noel. photographed July 3, 2011

MINERSVILLE, Beaver County — The most distinguished citizen to come out of Minersville recently is a 10-year-old boy who police say is as honest as they get.

While out with his three siblings on Father's Day, Austin Carter happened upon a wad of cash on the asphalt near a local business. Rather than spend it on toys or candy — favorites of most kids his age — Austin did the right thing.

"I just saw it lying on the road so I just picked it up, and then we took it to my mom," he said.

Austin, his parents and siblings gathered in the car and talked about what they should do with the money, which police say totaled $2,500.

"As a family, we talked about what we should do with it and we decided as a family we needed to get help," said Austin's mom, Michelle Carter. "(We) needed to get help to find the rightful owners so we took it to the sheriff's (office)."

Michelle and her husband Chad used the experience as a teaching moment to talk to their kids about empathy and how to treat others.

"As a family that lives paycheck to paycheck, we realized that there was a family somewhere that would be needing this money to pay their bills," she said. "And we talked to the kids and tried to have them imagine if this was ours, if we had lost the money, how that would be really hard for our family to get by."

Beaver County Sheriff Cameron Noel said officers were so impressed with Austin's efforts, they decided to honor him with a Distinguished Citizen Award, which they presented to him at his home in late June. Austin received a sheriff's hat, some commemorative coins and an unspecified reward from the rightful owner of the found cash.

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"It's great to know that we still have these types of families and people in our community and that they are teaching their children how important it is to be honest," Noel said.

When police were contacted by the owner of the money, he became emotional to learn that the good Samaritan responsible for returning the money was still in elementary school, the sheriff said.

"By getting it back to the rightful owners, it was a bigger reward by learning to be honest and doing the right thing," Michelle Carter said.


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