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Priceless treasures lost, then found thanks to Goodwill

March 21, 2011

Cornelius Store Manager Vincent Cowen shares a hug with happy donor Carolyn Wiles.

Several weeks ago, local florist Carolyn Wiles was preparing to go on a vacation to Florida when she remembered an article she had read about hiding jewelry in strange places in case of burglary. She decided in order to keep her most precious jewels safe, she would hide them inside a blue suit in her closet that she hadn’t worn in years. She left for vacation and didn’t think about the jewelry again.

When Wiles got home, she was bitten by the spring cleaning bug and started emptying her closets of clothing she no longer needed. She donated several bags of clothing to our Cornelius Goodwill retail store.

It wasn’t until she was getting ready to host a family gathering that she realized what had happened–she had accidentally donated the blue suit, jewelry included.

Wiles immediately went to the store to explain her mistake to Store Manager Vincent Cowen. He promised to look for the jewels, but couldn’t guarantee that they hadn’t yet been sold. Wiles left with little hope that her jewelry would ever be found.

“I tried to tell myself that it was just stuff–there are people who have lost their loved ones, so this isn’t a huge deal in the scheme of things,” she said.

But when she received a phone call from Cowen just a few minutes after arriving home, she couldn’t believe the news–he had found a small bag of jewels that just might belong to her in a box of costume jewelry.

Wiles and her family immediately jumped in the car and drove back to the Cornelius store. There, waiting for her, was her jewelry–her diamond engagement ring, a three-stone diamond eternity ring, two antique Victorian rings from her deceased mother-in-law, and a bracelet–together worth nearly $25,000. To Wiles, of course, the jewelry is priceless.

Wiles still can’t believe that she has been reunited with her heirlooms. When Cowen handed her the jewelry, she hugged him, saying, “You just saved my marriage!”

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