Lifting the bag and turning it over to inspect it, she feels something heavy rolling around inside. Then, by methodically squeezing the bag’s lining, she finally finds the culprit.
“How odd,” she whispers and continues to check all of the bag’s compartments. Suddenly, her fingers find a hole in the lining. Reaching inside, her fingers close over a hard rectangular object. She thinks she knows exactly what it is. She also knows that it definitely isn’t supposed to be here.
Oregon resident and bargain hunter Sarah Thomas loves nothing more than finding a good deal. Whenever she passes a Goodwill store or charity shop, she just can’t resist. She trawls the dusty shelves and boxes for anything that looks interesting or unusual, and she usually finds it.
In fact, Sarah has such a keen eye for vintage treasure that she has started her own clothing resale business online. But in all her years of thrift store browsing, she thought she had seen it all — until now.
Sarah’s Facebook business page is called Sarah’s Southern Oregon 2nd Hand Deals, and it has been so successful that it was soon generating a steady stream of income. But it wasn’t easy money.
Sarah worked hard to grow her business, visiting the local thrift stores a few times a week to find that special something. Some days were better than others, and she’d bag designer label dresses, shoes, and handbags for just a few dollars. But some days weren’t so easy.
Sometimes, when Sarah took a closer look at her finds, the items would be damaged or too worn to resell for a profit. And on occasion, there would be more to an item than met the eye at first glance.
This turned out to be the case when she spied a designer diaper bag for just $3 — she knew immediately that she had to buy it.
The diaper bag was a highly sought-after designer label, and it was also vintage. Even more surprising, it looked to be new — what a rare find! Sarah, knowing that this diaper bag could retail at around $200 new, thought she had found the bargain of a lifetime.
Quickly snatching it up, she took it to the counter and paid without a moment’s hesitation. However, it was only when she took the purchase home that she noticed that there was something rather strange about it.
Sarah said: “I was cleaning it and just noticed something heavy shaking around in there.” Rummaging through every compartment inside the bag, she was confused when she still couldn’t find the mysterious object.
Suddenly, wild speculations started to run through her mind. What had the bag’s previous owner hidden there? And, more importantly, why had they gotten rid of it? She started to wonder if there could be something nasty inside.
Sarah began to grow more and more concerned. Perhaps she’d be better off returning the old bag and leaving it at that. It was, after all, a second-hand diaper bag.
But her curiosity eventually got the better of her — she couldn’t leave it. After poking around inside a bit more, she discovered the small hole in the lining. She could never have known that she was about to solve a 7-year-old mystery.
Peeking carefully into the opening, she sees a glint of silver. Her heart starts to beat in double-time. She begins to stretch the hole, widening it just enough for her small hand to enter.
But had Sarah found trash or treasure? There was only one way to find out. She worked at the hole until it was big enough for her to reach inside. Bracing for the worst, she mutters: “Here goes…”
Sarah winces as her hand brushes something cold and hard, but she is beyond relieved when she to realizes that it isn’t wet. It is smooth, and it feels like metal.
She pulls it out slowly and is astonished to find a brand-new Sony digital camera in her hand. Now that she has found out what it is, she is left with more unanswered questions. Who does it belong to? And why had it been it hidden here in the first place?
Sarah locates the ‘ON’ switch and holds it for a few seconds. Suddenly, the camera beeps to life. She is so surprised that she jumps at the unexpected noise.
Then, the images begin to display on the camera’s screen. Although she is reluctant to scroll through someone’s personal and secret memories, she continues to look at the photos one by one. But she can’t tear her eyes away.
The images flashed before her eyes. But before she had even reached the end, she knew that something had to be done.
But what could she do? And, more importantly, how could she help?
When asked if she had any hesitation before she took action, Sarah said: “I live by the golden rule. I would hate someone to do that to me.”
Sarah had made up her mind. Looking through the photographs was enough to make her leap into action. She knew in her heart that it was the right thing to do.
Sarah was a mother herself. She knew she would have been heartbroken if she had lost her camera with its irreplaceable memories of her baby still inside.
She imagined how she would have felt if she had lost all those precious moments. The day she took her baby home from the hospital, those wobbly first steps. Even though these memories lived on in her mind’s eye, the pictures were priceless. She knew she had to do something. She had to find the camera’s owner.
Suddenly, Sarah had an idea. She already has quite a following on her Facebook business page. Perhaps if she uploaded the pictures, someone would recognize the woman in the photos. It was a long shot — but she knew she just had to try. “I would hate to lose pictures,” Sara explains.
“It might not be much, but it is to somebody.” But what were the chances that the camera’s owner was still in the area? The camera could have been lost months or even years ago.
Sara’s Facebook reads: “I’m not sure if this is ok to post here, but I purchased a diaper bag at the Goodwill and found a blue Sony Cybershot camera inside with photos. Does anyone know who this family or people in these pictures are? I want to make sure they get their camera and most definitely their SD card.”
It was sheer luck that the camera’s owner was nearby — the pair just needed social media to bring them together.
In just one hour, Sarah’s Facebook post had been shared hundreds of times. Then, someone recognized the woman in the pictures and word traveled fast — her name was Katie Connor.
But Katie was puzzled, at first… so Sarah sent her a private Facebook message, explaining that she had found her camera and SD card full of photographs. Katie was dumbfounded. She hadn’t lost her camera. It was only after Sarah sent her a few of the photographs that she remembered.
Katie was so overwhelmed when she saw the long lost photos of her son that she almost burst into tears. She had never expected to see the camera or the photos inside it again.
Sarah was quick to arrange a meeting in the closest Target parking lot to return the camera to Katie, but she wasn’t prepared for just how emotional the reunion would be.
The emotional reunion was caught on camera as Katie strides up, exclaiming “Thank you!” She has an incredulous look on her face as Sarah hands her the camera.
“I think we thought it was long gone!” Katie says with a grin. Then, she explains just how long the camera had been missing for, and floors everyone!
Sarah had discovered the camera inside her Goodwill bag in 2017. But Katie explained that the camera had actually gone missing back in 2010 — and Katie’s baby had only been a year old when she had taken the photos.
Now, he was 7. Of course, Katie couldn’t wait to see the old photographs. She intended to go through them with her son as soon as she got home!
Katie never had never dreamed that she’d be reunited with her lost camera. Now, she has all those precious memories back, all thanks to Sarah’s big heart!
Sarah has been hailed a local hero and a good samaritan by local reporters and fans, but she disagrees. “I didn’t think of it as a big deal. I would think that anyone else would do it, but I guess maybe nowadays that isn’t the case,” she said in an interview. Being a hero just comes naturally to some people!