Kids cleaning up Lake Merritt find bags of jewelry

March 29, 2012 7:39:49 PM PDT
There was an unexpected surprise uncovered in Oakland Thursday afternoon. A bunch of kids, picking up trash around Lake Merritt, found bags filled with valuables in the water near Harrison Street and Grand Avenue.

There were dozens of expensive-looking items that the kids pulled out of the lake. The 6th graders were not only giving back to the community, they may have also helped some burglary victims get their stuff back.

The weekly garbage cleanup turned into a treasure hunt for a group of 6th graders from St. Paul's Episcopal School. Instead of the usual assortment of debris, they found two cloth bags, full of precious jewelry and other heirlooms.

When asked if they usually find this kind of stuff, one kid said, "Not really, no. I've heard stories of a woman on a cleanup day and she found a gold, diamond ring in the grass, but it's kind of amazing."

The bags were filled with at least a hundred pieces of silver and gold, rings, bracelets, watches, some candle holders, and even a silver spoon.

"There's several dozen heavy silver rings with opal and maybe some other gems on it, and a lot of old gold watches, the type that used to be given away when people would retire. It looked like some commemorative coins and things, one appears to be from Wimbledon," said Susan Porter, a teacher.

Dr. Richard Bailey is with the Lake Merritt Institute. He's overseen hundreds of Lake Merritt cleanups over the years and though there's never been anything quite like this. He has pulled some interesting items out of this water.

"Somebody's brief case with his passport, a couple of kilograms of mysterious white powder that somebody wanted to take off our hands for free, but we gave it to the cops," said Bailey.

In this case, the kids marveled at their discovery for a while, before it was all packed back into the bags, to turn over to Oakland police. For these students it was a good lesson in doing the right thing.

"If people have gotten their stuff taken, it's only right to give it back to them," said a kid.

These kids say after this discovery, they're even more excited about next week's cleanup.

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