PEI panhandler praised for returning ring tossed to him with coins

Jim Day
Published on March 19, 2014

©The Guardian - TC Media


Now this is a panhandling story with a heartwarming twist.

Terry Arsenault, 58, of Summerside, Prince Edward Island, was in Charlottetown Friday evening with his wife Teresa to take the couple’s son, Paul Russo, out for a birthday dinner.

On the way to the restaurant, Terry saw a young man on the corner of Queen Street and Grafton Street with a sign declaring help was needed to pay for food and rent.

Terry reached into his pocket and hauled out a good fistful of change and tossed the money into a tall canister. His son plopped more coins on top.

The trio then proceeded a short distance down Grafton Street to the Pilot House for an enjoyable dinner.

At some point after returning home in Summerside, Terry looked with concern at his naked ring finger.

He ran through his activity that day in an attempt to determine where he may have parted company from the 10-karat gold ring with a single diamond in the centre that was purchased for him by Teresa 27 years ago. He recalled taking the ring off and placing it in his pocket so he could apply hand cream.

After that recollection, he became rather certain that the ring was inadvertently tossed along with change into the panhandler’s canister of coins.

Terry returned to Charlottetown to visit two local pawnshops. He was told the ring had not turned up at either business.

He was deeply frustrated at the prospect of never recovering the sentimentally valuable piece of jewelry that cost about $250 almost three decades ago.

“This ring kind of represents some of the trials we’ve been through and survived,’’ he says of a marriage filled with its share of highs and lows. “I kind of felt like I lost my best friend...I was almost grieving for this ring.’’

So out of desperation and dwindling hope in recovering the ring, he made his way to the very same corner where he had given a handful of coins to an appreciative young man a little over a day earlier.

There was a panhandler stationed at the corner, but not the same one. However, the man did identify his fellow panhandler as a friend named Bobby and noted that Bobby told him about the ring discovered in amongst a pile of coins.

Terry passed his phone number to the panhandler and asked him to pass it along to Bobby. No more than five minutes later, Terry was answering a call from Bobby.

Terry soon met up with Bobby. Bobby gave Terry the ring. Terry gave Bobby a $50 reward.

Bobby said: “I wasn’t expecting nothing. I just wanted to do a good deed.’’

Terry was thrilled to get his ring back but also touched by the goodness of the panhandler.

“The ring was important but I wasn’t expecting to find it at all...I was just ecstatic to find it,’’ he says. “He (Bobby the panhandler) was honest enough even in his situation not to pawn it off.’’