The pressure was on. Christmas day was just around the corner, and Mark and Darlene Welch still had plenty of gifts to purchase.
So they loaded up their family and headed to the local mall to join the throng of last-minute shoppers.Brother Welch, a member of the Savannah 2nd Ward bishopric, and Sister Welch, a member of the Savannah Georgia Stake Relief Society presidency, had their strategy in place. Their older children were allowed to search through the mall for their own presents - mostly clothes - under a specified budget limit.
And that's how Keith, 17; Scott, 14; Ashley, 8; and Dustin, 3; happened to be in the mall with their parents that rainy evening last December. One store manager was very fortunate that's the way it was.
The Welches were flowing with the flood of shoppers along the mall concourse when the older boys stumbled across a clear, zippered plastic bag. The boys stopped and took a closer look with wide eyes. Clearly visible were stacks of money including $100 and $50 bills.
As the boys reached for the bag, their mother snatched it up from in front of them. Upon closer inspection, they discovered the bag contained about $5,000. The bag also contained a deposit slip that included the name of the mall store it came from.
Brother and Sister Welch used the money to test whether the values they had taught in their home had been learned. They asked their children what they should do with the money.
The parents were proud when their children answered. Even though the young ones considered how much happier their Christmas could be with that much extra money, they knew the money must be returned.
When the family arrived at the store, Brother Welch went inside and asked an assistant manager if the store had lost anything. She said they had, and Brother Welch asked her to describe it. She said it was a bag of money the manager was supposed to deposit in the bank, but had unknowingly dropped it somewhere along the way.
Brother Welch then called in the rest of the family, and they were ushered to a back office. When they entered the room, they saw the store manager who was crying uncontrollably. The assistant manager introduced the Welches and they handed the manager the bag of money.
As the manager's tears of sorrow turned to tears of joy, she gave each member of the family a hug and sincere thanks. For the Welches, that was ample reward for doing what they knew was right.