NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - It started out as a typical Thursday for Aiya Tulemaganbetova. Last month, she was waiting for a train on a subway platform. Absentmindedly, she left her purse on a bench. A Chanel bag filled with $10,000 in cash. Aiya was about to hop on a plane to Kazakhstan.
"Most places don't take credit cards and they only take debit cards in a lot of those countries," Aiya's translator told us. "So, unfortunately, if you're not coming in with cash you don't have much to do there."
Fast forward to a few weeks later— another Thursday— this one definitely not typical. At the 20th Precinct on the Upper West Side, Aiya had the chance to meet her hero, Richard Taverna. He found her purse and brought it to police, all the money still inside.
"It wasn't mine and I knew somebody was in pretty bad shape at that point, pretty upset. It was never any question about turning it in," Richard said.
Aiya gave Richard a small gold statue, which she says represents a soldier. The meeting was a reminder for these two strangers that an act of kindness, no matter how big or small, goes a long way.
"When I read and see about people doing good things I always think 'Okay, it inspires me to try to step up," Richard said. "So if it does that for other people then that's really good, I hope it does."
"The day she found out, she wound up going to a local charity and making a donation on behalf of the very kind gentleman," said Aiya's translator.
Aiya said she had all that money on her to buy Christmas gifts for her kids. Lesson learned—she'll be traveling with a lot less cash from now on. She said she hopes she'll continue to keep paying it forward.