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Woman loses $50,000 in garage sale teddy bear

Posted: Tuesday, June 10, 2003

ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage woman is hoping someone returns a teddy bear sold at a church garage sale that she says had $50,000 sewn inside - money she borrowed for her husband's cancer treatment.

Wan Song and her husband came to Alaska 12 years ago from Korea. They have three boys, the oldest in college. Her husband, Inhong Song, worked as a restaurant cook until he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He had surgery in December.

Without her husband's knowledge, Wan Song borrowed $50,000 from friends and relatives in the United States and Korea. She got the money in cash, she told the Anchorage Daily News.

She worried about leaving the $50,000 in the house, so she wrapped the money in foil, cut open the back of a teddy bear that belonged to one of her children when he was young and sewed the money inside. She stuck the bear in a bag of old sheets in the back of a closet.

In late March, the family's church was having a garage sale. Wan Song packed items for the sale, which her husband carried over when she went to work.

When the sale began to run out of items, Wan Song's husband went back to the house, looking for more. He found the bag of sheets with the bear, a fuzzy, white stuffed animal in a flowered outfit, and brought it to the sale.

An older woman with two girls reportedly bought it for a dollar. One of the girls paid for it with her own money. The woman said the family collected toy bears and went to garage sales looking for them.

Wan Song at first told no one. However, she accepted the advice of a friend and fellow parishioner, Sunny Avery, to let people know of her loss. Avery's theory was that people are more willing to keep found money if they don't know to whom it belongs.

"They might think it's something illegal and the person has no right to it," she said.

Avery helped Song put up posters that described a favorite toy, accidentally sold, belonging to a "9-year-old girl who has had this bear since she was a tiny baby." They thought the bear might be returned without anyone discovering the money.

After weeks passed, Wan Song told her husband and eventually talked to a reporter at KTUU-TV, who reported on the missing money.



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