MILTON — Martha Enfinger of Milton lost her purse Tuesday but thanks to a helpful community, she says, she got it back.

“I was supposed to have blood drawn and it was fasting,” she said. “I hate needles. I was a little bit stressed.”

Enfinger was on her way to Quest Diagnostics when she made a mistake.

“I put my purse on the back on my car and here I went. Somewhere between here and Quest my purse fell off. I did not realize until I got to Quest my purse was gone.”

Enfinger left her Quest appointment and began retracing her steps, and then went to PenAir Federal Credit Union, where she met her first helper.

“When I got to the bank, there was this young girl … She gave me a list of six to eight things to do starting with calling my insurance (company), calling the credit card numbers, and putting out a fraudulent alert so nobody could open accounts. She told me the documents I’d have to take to Social Security — I mean step by step — and then the documents I’d have to take to the (Department of Motor Vehicles).”

At approximately 6:40 a.m., Maureen Phelan, driving her morning bus route for the Santa Rosa County School District, saw a purse in the road while picking up one of her students.

“There was a bunch of mail scattered in the road,” Phelan said. “I stopped the bus, got off, picked it up, and put it on the bus…I can’t do anything until I get off the bus. I didn’t want to say anything on the radio; they like to keep it clear for accidents. (I thought) maybe I can do something prior to getting off at 10. I didn’t want her to be worried for next 10 hours.”

Phelan called Pen Air Federal Credit Union and verified some information from a check in the purse with the bank and left it with the bank to contact Enfinger. However, Phelan hadn’t received a call by the time she finished her morning route at 10 a.m. She returned to Enfinger’s home but found her not at home. She found a neighbor outside who knew Enfinger and decided to leave the purse with her.

Phelan was glad to be the one who found the purse, she said.

“Even if there was no money to replace, her personal info (like) her Social Security card was in it,” she said. “It might have had her debit and credit cards. It’s easy to go to a gas station and fill up (with someone else’s card).”

“(I had) Social Security, insurance cards, the whole nine yards,” Enfinger said. “I could have been wiped out completely.”

Enfinger returned to Quest Wednesday for her blood work and a Quest employee let her through immediately following Tuesday’s situation.

“The honesty and kindness of this community showed in not only the bank, Pen Air, but also Quest, a bus driver and the neighbors.”

Enfinger, a Santa Rosa County resident since 1956, was a charter member of Emmanuel Baptist Church.

“I started there when they held church services in the auditorium of Pace Elementary," she said.

Enfinger worked at Santa Rosa Hospital then ran the Decorators Den bakery from 1985 to 1995. She retired from West Florida Community Care Center, a county psychiatric facility.

“It seems all you hear about, especially with bus drivers, are bad negative things,” she said. “I think what Maureen did was fantastic.

"It shows we do have a lot of reasons to be thankful for living in this community.”