There's no Girl Scout badge for returning lost money, but that didn't stop a troop in Hermosa Beach from handing over a pouch containing a six-inch pile of dollar bills to its grateful owner.
Small-business owner Gwen Vignon had given up hope that she would find more than $1,200 – money allocated to keeping the lights on and water flowing at her Redondo Beach laundromat – when a troop of Girl Scouts selling cookies outside a grocery store said they’d recovered the cash.
Vignon had just picked up the money from her laundromat, and drove to Vons in Hermosa Beach on March 8 with the bag on her lap.
It apparently fell onto the ground when she stepped out of the car.
"I got home and I remember I didn’t see the bag, and it was gone from the car," she told NBCLA on Friday.
A self-described realist, Vignon said she saw the loss as a lesson.
"I just thought I’m not going to see it again. I was resigned to the fact that it was stupid mistake. Who’s gonna turn in a bag of money, except the Girl Scouts?" she said.
"I wasn’t happy, that’s for sure. It meant I couldn’t pay the utilities."
Vignon drove back to the Vons, where she asked grocery store employees and police officers in the parking lot if anyone turned in money. They all said no.
But then she noticed the Girl Scouts, poised behind their table loaded with colorful cookie boxes. They asked her if she was looking for lost money, and said they’d given it to a police officer.
The scouts told the businesswoman they thought the six-inch wad of $1-bills was drug money, Vignon said with a laugh.
"It’s so sweet. It was one of the best days," she said.
A Girl Scout herself until sixth grade, Vignon bought the rest of the troop’s cookies.
She now has 25 boxes – or $100 worth – of the organization’s famous treats, the majority of which she plans to donate, perhaps to a nursing home.
The timing worked out well, Vignon said, because every April for her birthday, she picks up a few boxes of Girl Scout cookies for herself. Of the 25 boxes she bought last week, Vignon said she’ll keep three boxes of Shortbread cookies, and two boxes of Thin Mints.
Vignon said she didn’t catch the number of the troop selling treats outside the Vons in Hermosa Beach, but hopes a troop leader or scout will recognize the sweet story.
An official with the Hermosa Beach Police Department confirmed money was turned over to police that day, in the parking lot, but no troop number was listed in the report.
"I just want them to get credit for their troop," Vignon said. "They told me they just wanted to do the right thing."