Beyond the call of duty: UWM worker recovers student’s wallet from dumpster

Alisha Andrews, a UWM Environmental Services custodian, helped turn an unfortunate mistake into a positive happenstance when she helped a student find her missing wallet amid heaps of rain-soaked trash.

“It does happen a lot that custodians are asked to check if something is lost, but it’s not always that we find it,” said Debbie Frank-Downer, Andrews’ supervisor.

Alisha Andrews

Andrews is in charge of cleaning and maintenance of the top three floors of Enderis Hall. She is on floors nine through 11 every day to take out the trash, clean the bathrooms and wax the floors.

A student approached Andrews last month as she was replacing trash bags, saying she had accidentally thrown out her wallet. By then, it was in a dumpster outside.

Andrews led the student to the dumpster to see if trash from the day before was still in the dumpster. Luckily, it was.

Unluckily, rain was pouring down. Almost a half-inch of rain fell that day.

“She did not ask me to help,” said Andrews, who didn’t get the student’s name. “I just helped because I know what it is like.”

Andrews stood on a chair to reach into the dumpster and rummaged through trash bags. The student created a pile of what had already been searched next to the dumpster.

Andrews was soaked from the rain. Halfway through the search she went back inside to grab a garbage bag, which she fashioned into a makeshift raincoat.

After searching several bags, Andrews and the student found their prize. While Andrews checked, the student pulled the wallet out of the bag.  The student was very grateful for Andrews’ help.

“It made me feel good,” Andrews said. “I didn’t want to get anything out of it, just to pay it forward.”

Andrews had no plans to tell her boss about what happened. But one of her co-workers who saw the good deed told Frank-Downer.

“She’s made a great addition to the building,” Frank-Downer said. “The people in her area cannot say enough good things about her.”

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