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Goodwill returns medal, other valuables, to Air Force vet after accidental donation

Published: Jul. 21, 2020 at 6:27 PM CDT
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CORALVILLE, Iowa (KCRG) - A donation to a charitable organization almost had an unhappy twist, if not for the efforts of the charity’s employees.

A decorated eastern Iowa Air Force veteran was recently doing some cleaning around the house before he prepared to move to Florida. It led Scott Rude and his family to donate bags full of items to the Goodwill store in Coralville, only to realize one item was given away that he never wanted to lose.

“If it’s out there, and somebody has it, I just would- I would be extremely appreciative of being able to get my memories back,” Rude said on June 19, when KCRG-TV9 first spoke with him after he realized it was lost.

Prior to moving to Florida, Rude and family loaded up the car with items to go to Goodwill. But, Rude also left his briefcase in the trunk of his car. That briefcase contained his commendation medal from his service in the Air Force, honorable discharge, and his diploma, among other items.

“I have to give credit [for losing it] to all of us. Basically, me putting it in the trunk in the first place, and then my wife stuffing donations on top of it, and then my daughter not really knowing the difference of what was happening there and going to Goodwill with it,” Rude said.

Staff with Goodwill already know: accidental donations happen, but happy endings sometimes do not.

“We do receive a number of calls from folks that are like: ‘hey, I had something in my trunk, I didn’t mean to donate it,’ or a spouse accidentally donated it,” Mindy Kayser, the vice president of marketing for Goodwill of the Heartland, said.

That is, until Rude’s phone rang.

It was Kayser on the other end of the phone call, telling Rude the good news: two months after it was dropped off, the invaluable briefcase was found in the warehouse with everything inside.

“When I got the call that they thought they had found it, I couldn’t get there quick enough to get it open, take a look and make sure that the name matched with the name that I had,” Kayser said. “And then to be able to make that phone call, just gave me such a wonderful feeling.”

Rude was thrilled with the news, offering a reward to whoever found it. The staff member who found it at Goodwill said they wanted no recognition, and only wanted to make sure the item got back to Rude.

Rude said he is planning something anyway.

“Mindy and I talked about the fact that we’re just going to do a pizza party for everybody,” Rude said. “So that’s what’s happening, we’re going to put the pizza party together for this. Because they deserve it, I appreciate it, it’s a big deal to me.”

Meaning however unlikely, this story found its happy ending.

Copyright 2020 KCRG. All rights reserved.

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