Thrift Store Receives Donation Of Military Awards And Tracks Down Original Owner

One of the most fascinating aspects about any thrift store is looking at all of the secondhand items that are now up for sale and realizing that these are not brand new products. They haven't been freshly shipped to Walmart or Target, in the hopes of soon finding their very first owners.

These items have all belonged to someone already. They've had a home at some point, perhaps even multiple, and they all have a story to tell, no matter how big or how small.

Whether it be a well-loved antique arm chair or a set of wedding plates, or perhaps even a small collection of vintage photographs, every single thing inside of a thrift store is a tiny piece of someone's history. And sometimes that person deserves to have their history returned to them.

A thrift store in Phoenix, Arizona, recently embarked on such a mission.

Unsplash | Artem Beliaikin

Store volunteer Teresa Ferrin shared this incredible story to the Facebook group "Weird (and Wonderful) Secondhand Finds That Just Need To Be Shared" where it quickly and understandably went viral.

In that post, she begins by explaining the store had recently received a donation containing a collection of military awards, patches, and pins, including a Purple Heart.

After taking a look at the back of the Heart, Ferrin was delighted to find she could make out the inscription of the recipient's name.

As it turns out, the unidentified serviceman had been awarded the medal, which is awarded in the name of the president to those wounded or killed while serving their country, in the 1950s during the Korean War.

Ferrin was able to track down the man's surviving family on Facebook to let them know the store had his military decorations.

Incredibly, this was the first time his family had heard about their patriarch's medals.

"The 8 children did not know that their brave and gallant father had received these," Ferrin wrote online. "So off the package goes to Florida to the family."

Since it was shared on February 22, Ferrin's story has since gone viral, amassing nearly 40,000 reactions from Facebook users.

Many users applauded Ferrin for taking action to return the man's military medals to his family in Florida, while others wondered how they ever possibly wound up at the Arizona thrift store in the first place.

"Who would donate someone else’s medals, and not try to contact the family?" one user implored. "Heartless!"

Someone else added, "Always commands my respect when people do this. Seen a lot of A-holes choose to profit of stuff like this instead of at least attempting to return."

There were also many comments sharing similar stories of servicemen and women in their own families who had become inexplicably separated from their decorations.

Unsplash | Jon Sailer

"My grandfather's WWII went missing when he sold his house in Oregon in the 90s," one person shared. "He's been gone for almost 20 years now, but I hope someone finds it."

Someone else revealed they've been on the receiving end of such an act of kindness like Ferrin's, writing, "Someone did this for me, and I keep my dad’s dog tags where I see them everyday."

h/t: Facebook | Teresa Ferrin