Nina Flores of Elkton was having a hustle-and-bustle kind of afternoon when she finally found time to make it to the grocery store. Halfway through her trip, however, she noticed something that would ruin her day: Somewhere she had lost an envelope containing nearly $300.
She ran to her car and frantically tore it apart looking for her family's grocery money. The cash was gone.
Despondent, she remembered having had it with her earlier at Lena's Sub & Steak Shop in Elkton when she picked up lunch for coworkers. Flores rushed over to the small family-owned shop on North Bridge Street, but found it closed for the night.
"I just sat in my car and didn't know what to do," she said. "Then I saw that I had a voicemail."
It was Joe and Melba Romanek, the owners of Lena's, telling Flores they had found her money on the counter and were holding it for her.
The money was from her husband Andy's unemployment check and it would feed their son and twin daughters that week.
"He's looking for work right now so we depend on that check," Flores said. "I'm so grateful for the people who work at Lena's to do a good deed like that."
Joe Romanek said he had looked at the shop's security camera footage for that Wednesday afternoon to see which customer left the envelope. Then he tried to match the person to an order.
"Then we were able to match the order to a phone number," he said. "I guess we're kind of amateur detectives."
Melba said customers have left money in the store before.
"We had a guy a year or two ago that left his entire rent payment on the counter," she said.
Joe was pleased to return the money.
"The way things are right now, people need the money they have," he said. "We're just glad she got it back."
Flores went the next day to retrieve the envelope and said she would use the experience to encourage her children to do good deeds.
She also hopes the message will be paid forward.
"If someone reads this story, I hope they're inspired to do something good for someone else, as well," she said.