Tennessee Goodwill workers return donated WWII letters to family

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Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Employees at a Tennessee thrift store found a stash of World War II letters in a donated jewelry box and were able to return them to the family.

Melinda Brummitt was examining some donated items earlier this month at the Goodwill store in Kingsport when she found an old jewelry box with a broken leg and brought her discovery to coworkers Holly Saylor and Isabella Hilton.


"It was kind of heavy, so I picked it up, opened it, took the letters out, took the first one out and read it, and I was like this is a mistaken donation," Saylor recalled to WCYB-TV.

The letters were written by Gene Herron while serving in Germany in 1944. They were addressed to his childhood sweetheart, Betty.

The Goodwill employees agreed the letters should be returned to the family, and Brummitt was able to do so when Brian Shelby returned to the store and she recognized him as the man who had brought the items in for donation.

"It just so happened the day he came back, I was working donations again, and I was like, 'We've got something for you,'" Brummitt said.


Shelby, Gene and Betty's grandson, had mistakenly brought the jewelry box to the store while donating items that had been earmarked for donation by his mother, Gayle Skelton, the couple's daughter.

Skelton said the family hadn't looked inside the jewelry box and didn't know the letters existed.

"We didn't know they really existed. To have someone find them and return them, it was amazing. Just listening to something we didn't even know we had," Skelton said.

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