In November 2014, Svetlana Nemchinova, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, found an envelope on the street containing 6,000 euros (over $6,800 U.S.). After a lengthy search for the owner, she was able to return the money. Ms. Nemchinova’s altruism was reported on television, the radio, and in several online news articles.
Ms. Nemchinova is a street cleaner in the city of Vologda, approximately 450 kilometers (280 mi) northeast of Moscow. While on the job, she noticed a plain envelope. Looking inside, she discovered a large sum of money. Although Ms. Nemchinova and her three children live modestly in a 12-square-meter (129 sq ft) apartment, she states: “I didn’t even think of keeping the money. Right away I thought about the person who surely was feeling terrible.”
In an effort to find the owner, Ms. Nemchinova first posted an announcement on nearby buildings. When no one responded, Ms. Nemchinova took the money to a nearby bank, since the envelope of money contained a receipt with the bank’s name on it. The bank determined that the money belonged to Pavel Smirnov. After making several attempts to contact Mr. Smirnov, the bank was finally able to inform him that Ms. Nemchinova found his money.
An article published in the Russian newspaper Premier states: “Svetlana does not see anything outstanding in her actions. She is a religious person and regularly reads the Bible.” Ms. Nemchinova further explained to Premier that her actions were a result of applying what is often called the Golden Rule from Matthew 7:12: “All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must do to them.”
Mr. Smirnov, an artist who invented a special composition of paint, had been saving the money to purchase specialized equipment to further his research of dye structures. “Words cannot express how thankful I am to Svetlana,” stated Mr. Smirnov. “After what Svetlana did, your faith in people is restored. There is only one thing left to say: ‘There is a God!’