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Good Deed First Grader Reaps Unexpected Reward
For first grader Colton Panero, there were no second thoughts. He found a wallet; he gave it to his teacher. Simple as that.

And the family that got it back is forever grateful to the honest young man.

The wallet, a Spiderman wallet, caught Colton's eye outside his school on a recent day and, picking it up, he figured the best thing to do was give it to his teacher, Dent Elementary first grade teacher Jennifer Nelson.

"He found it outside the classroom and immediately brought it to me," Nelson explained.

Opening the wallet, the teacher was amazed to find over $700 inside.

"I thought, 'this is somebody's life money' so we turned it into the office and they held it," Nelson added.

School officials debated taking it to the police department but decided to wait just to see if someone came to claim it. Later, a family arrived on campus, describing the wallet and indicating how much was in it, so it was returned to its rightful owner. The mother and a child in the family each happened to be using a Spiderman wallet at the time and the youngster inadvertently took the cash-laden one to school, where it apparently fell out of his backpack.

Colton said he and a classmate were walking when his classmate actually pointed the wallet out and Colton picked it up.

"I said we should show our teacher," the six-year-old said. "I just gave it to her."

He didn't even open it up, so was unsure of how much cash was actually inside, guessing it may have been $100.

In fact, there was $720 in it and the family needed it for a house payment.

"It's comforting when we get a kid who does the right thing," Dent assistant principal Trish Anderson said. "It makes me a happy camper."

Anderson and Escalon Police Department School Resources Officer Matt Price made a special presentation to Colton on Wednesday, calling him into the Dent primary office. There, he was congratulated for his honesty and integrity and presented with a gift basket, full of items donated by local businesses in recognition of his good deed.

The unexpected reward, Colton said, made him "happy."

"I think it's really neat the community pulled together and did this," Colton's mom, Jeanine Panero, said. "I'm proud of him."

His mother is also a first grade teacher at Dent and said Colton was overwhelmed by the gift basket, digging in to some candy and eager to use the basketball and football included among the items. Several gift certificates for local businesses and a cash reward were also included. Among the contributors to the basket were D'Boni's Pizza, Pizza Plus, Quizno's, Strand's Ace Hardware, Subway, Taco Bell and True Value Hardware.

"At this age, they are still so young and innocent," Panero said. "They do the right thing, just for the sake of doing the right thing."

Nelson said Colton is also a model student, a good example for others in the classroom.

"Colton is one of those students that is just a good kid. He's kind to other students, he thinks before he does things ... he's fair minded," she said.

Officer Price praised Colton for his honesty as he helped present the gift basket.

"It's rare, very rare," Price admitted of someone turning in that much cash. "You did a good job, buddy."

Nelson agreed that Colton just did what he knew he should.

"He didn't expect anything," she said. "He just does the right thing."