Rachel Scheub got an unexpected lesson in international relations last month after losing her wallet on a trip to Italy.
The eighth-grader from Wareham, a student at the Rising Tide Charter School in Plymouth, had barely returned home when she got word that an artist in Rome had found her purse and, thanks in part to wickedlocal.com, would be returning it with her money, credit card and student ID.
Rachel Scheub and her Latin classmates were just finishing up a weeklong tour of Italy when she stopped in a store to buy a shirt for her sister. In the rush to get back to the bus, Scheub shoved her pink flowered wallet into the top of her backpack and ran.
Five blocks later, after meeting up with fellow students, she realized the wallet was long gone.
Scheub and her friends retraced her steps, but found no signs of the wallet.
Devastated, she returned to her room and called home.
“Fortunately, it was the last night, so she didn’t get to go out like the other kids and buy souvenirs, but it really didn’t impact her trip,” Scheub’s mother, Michelle Baum, said. “She called late that night and when she calmed down she was able to realize it wasn’t the end of the world.”
What Scheub didn’t know was a family in Italy was already coming to her assistance.
Raimando Santoro, a 79-year-old artist, found the wallet. Santoro, who does not speak English, gave it to his daughter, Luisa, who does.
Luisa Googled Scheub’s name and school on the Internet and found a wickedlocal.com story about a prize Scheub received last year from the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post for an essay about American patriotism.
Luisa sent an urgent email to GateHouse Media Publisher Mark Olivieri asking for helping in tracking Scheub. The Santoros were initially hopeful they might be able to contact Scheub while she was still in Rome.
Olivieri, in turn, contacted Senior Managing Editor Scott Smith, who went to work finding someone at the school – no easy task during a vacation week.
Smith was able to reach a former newspaper employee, who now works at the school.
She eventually contacted the Latin teacher, who emailed Scheub and her family with the good news less than an hour after the students landed safely in Boston.
The two families exchanged email messages and family photos and, a week later, the wallet arrived at Scheub’s house via courier.