February 16, 2021While cleaning out her home in the fall of 2020, Elsie Nakamoto discovered a watch with some wear and tear along its black strap and gold face. Assuming that it was just an older accessory that had reached its end, she donated it to her local Goodwill of Orange County store alongside a stuffed animal, notebook, and other small items. Little did she know that deep within the watch’s alligator binding laid the precious memory of her husband’s mother.
Elsie’s husband received the watch as a gift from his mother years ago, and it now serves as a beautiful reminder of her. When Elsie’s husband discovered the watch was gone, and Elsie learned of its true, emotional value, she desperately emailed Goodwill's customer service team to try and get it back. That was back in September of 2020.
Every day since, Goodwill team members continued to keep an eye out as the watch was likely to be processed through a sorting center with thousands of other jewelry and accessories. As months went by, Elsie and her husband convinced themselves that they would never be reunited with the gift again.
But, much to their amazement, the new year came with a new surprise. In January of 2021, four months after Elsie’s email and the accidental donation, Goodwill team member Carina was sorting jewelry in the warehouse when the impossible happened: she found the watch! She recognized the details from the email Elsie originally sent and had been keeping its attributes in the back of her mind whenever she came upon a watch.
Carina made a call – perhaps the best kind of call you can make to a customer! Elsie and her husband were shocked! When they came to pick up the item, three overjoyed Goodwill employees greeted them there, eager to reunite the watch with its owners.
Goodwill of Orange County is very proud of Carina and our team members, who always work tirelessly to embody Goodwill’s core values of kindness, integrity, service and innovation. We are so happy to hear that our team was able to not only return this item to a valued customer, but to also return the sentiment that came along with it!
What Elsie thought needed a new home actually needed to return home all along—and Goodwill is honored to have been a part of that journey back home.