Mary Alice Powell.
Now I know who was responsible for returning my purse that frightening day Oct. 7.
She is Cori Bressler Justus of Toledo.
Ironically Cori and I both wrote about the incident; she on Facebook and me for my Blade Sunday column on Oct. 17. At the time it was my only way to thank a stranger for taking the time and energy and for caring enough to take the purse I had carelessly left in a shopping cart in the Meijer parking lot in Maumee to the customer service desk inside.
The headline “Offering Thanks To A Stranger” caught the attention of Cori’s neighbor, Kim Dilloway, who had read the Facebook account. She connected Cori’s admission to the column and gave it to her.
Kim recalled Cori’s response after she read it. “She called me crying,” Kim said.
On Facebook, Cori wrote, “I had no plans on stopping at Meijer, but guess God needed me to be there to find someone’s purse and hand it in. I didn’t even buy anything. I’ve left mine somewhere before and it was returned. Now I got the chance to repay the favor to someone else.”
Through emails and a telephone conversation I have been able to thank Cori and to learn that returning my big brown bag is typical for an exceptionally fine young mother who practices what she believes: “If it isn’t yours, don’t keep it.”
She simply says, “Nothing too small not to return. The other day we found a magic wand in a parking lot and returned it. You never know how important that may be to someone. It may have been part of a child’s costume.”
Cori is familiar with children’s costumes. Her daughter, 6-year-old Olivia, takes dance lessons. In fact, she was waiting for Olivia to take her lesson when she stopped at Meijer. She explained that she was walking into the store when she saw me drive away after leaving the purse in the cart.
“When I took your purse to the counter they asked for my name, but I didn’t have time because I had to get to the dance studio,” she said.
That accounts for me not getting the name, but now I have it and a Christmas card is on the way to the family on Medford Drive in South Toledo.
Thirty-six-year-old Cori remembers her lucky day when she was 16 and her purse was returned.
“I left it on top of the car,” she recalled. “I had just cashed two checks so there was probably about $200 in it. Then an elderly couple called and said that they had my purse.”
In an email Cori explained other incidents that prove her honesty when she finds things.
“Within a month I had returned two paychecks stapled together at Wal-Mart on Glendale Avenue; then a personal check a week or so later at Wal-Mart in Bowling Green, and then a giant purse outside at Meijer.
“I am so glad that you got your purse. I always wonder if people return to retrieve the items I’ve returned.
“It feels good to help others and do the right thing when you so often hear of all the bad things that happen in this area but never about the people who try to restore faith and that there really are people who have a heart and know right from wrong.
“I am leading by example to raise my three kids to be better and to care for anyone they come in contact with. A simple smile or ‘Hi, how are you’ can change the mood or day of anyone you meet."
Christmas Eve was a double celebration for Cori, her husband Joe, and their three children. Olivia was 6 weeks old when Joe and Cori received her as their first adopted child on Christmas Eve in 2007.
Three months later, at Easter, they had the opportunity to adopt 5 and 7-year old boys. Tyson and Reece are 8 and 10 years old.
Cori says she always wanted a large family and has a desire to be just like her wonderful maternal grandmother, who had 12 children. Before the adoptions, she and Joe cared for foster children. The children are the joy of their 12-year-marriage that has had some rough roads including cancer, job loss, and Joe’s brain tumor.
Joe works two jobs so that Cori can be a stay-at-home mom and so Olivia can take dance lessons. His night job is at Kroger and he also works at Red Lobster in Maumee, with a goal of advancing to management.
Mary Alice Powell is a retired Blade food editor. Contact her at: email@example.com