This Woman Purchased a Bag From the Goodwill and it Transformed Her Life Forever

By: Ene Ayegba | Last updated: Nov 18, 2023

Thrift shopping is so much fun. First, the hunt for vintage items is thrilling as you have no idea what you’re going to find. Secondly, nothing can describe the feeling of satisfaction when you stumble on a rare item you’ve always wanted.

Sometimes, it gets even better — you get to discover a treasure that’ll change your life forever. This is the story of Sarah Thomas, a Portland mom whose incredible discovery made the headlines.

The Bargain Hunter

Sarah was an Oregon resident, a bargain hunger and thrift expert. Only a few things made her as excited as visiting Goodwill and scouting for the best second-hand deals. She even ran an online business where she sold vintage clothes from charity shops to other fashionistas.


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As expected of an experienced thrift shopper, Sarah had a keen eye for details. But despite her ability to notice the smallest things, something big was on its way – she didn’t see it coming.

A Mistake Somewhere

Most charity shops get their products from different types of people. In some cases, they’re from owners who had no idea how valuable the items are. Other times, it’s a loving donor in a great mood to bless a stranger with something pricey or was too busy to find a buyer willing to pay its worth.


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So, Sarah never raised an eyebrow when she found pricey items during thrift shopping. But this time around, her discovery was so precious that she knew there must have been a mistake somewhere.

A Thing or Two About Goodwill

Goodwill, a non-government organization, is one of America’s most popular thrift stores. True to their name, they’re well-known for reselling the countless donations they receive at incredibly low prices. Goodwill has also extended their goodness to helping people struggling with finding work by providing employment, job training, etc.


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Sarah was a regular Goodwill customer; she knew she could depend on them to do the right thing following her discovery.

Resourcefulness and Creativity to the Rescue

Let’s rewind to the day Sarah made the unexpected finding. It was like every other day, and she had started by checking “Sarah’s Southern Oregon 2nd Hand Deals” on her Facebook page. Then, she stepped out to get new items for her business.


Source: Sarah’s Southern Oregon 2nd Hand Deals/Facebook

Sarah’s business required her to always find clever or creative ways to overcome difficulties. But when it comes to Goodwill, she knew she didn’t have to worry about finding great deals. Goodwill never disappoints.

Fate Had a Role

Sarah just wanted to go about her thrift shopping as she had always done. But she had no idea fate had something else in store for her. It didn’t take long before she noticed a stylish, designer diaper bag sitting pretty.

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Not only was it a designer bag, but it was modern and in excellent shape. She knew she’d have no difficulties reselling this bag in no time.


An Eye for Good Things

Every good thrifter has one essential quality — the ability to notice and make a good judgment about any thrift item. Sarah knew at first glance that this would be a lucky deal, but she still needed to inspect it closely before she made up her mind.

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As she took a closer look at the diaper bag, she noticed that it had barely been used. It was a truly prized item.


A Once-in-a-Lifetime Kind of Deal

Based on her experience, she knew the diaper bag would cost a fortune. Maybe, somewhere around $200. But imagine her shock when she looked at the price tag, and $3 came staring back at her.

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It looked too good to be true. Was someone playing a prank on her? Could this be real? She was overcome with excitement. This was one of her best finds ever.


It's Beginning to Get Weird

As Sarah purchased the cheap designer bag, she noticed it was heavier than it looked. She couldn’t figure out why. But she brushed the thought aside and went about her thrift shopping. She was a busy business person and had a lot to tick off her list.

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However, when she got home, she decided to take a second look at her lucky buy. She peeped into the bag, and that’s when everything started taking a new, unexpected turn.


Strange Noises

Sarah was unloading the items from her thrift shopping when the beautiful design bag caught her attention again. She was excited to upload photos of it on her website for everyone to admire. But, at this point, she also remembered what she had brushed off earlier — the weight of the bag.

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But more than just the bag’s weird heaviness, she could also hear a strange sound coming from inside.


It Gets Even Weirder

“I was cleaning it and just noticed something heavy shaking around in there,” Sarah said in an interview with a news channel. She decided to thoroughly search the bag fold by fold and compartment by compartment to find out where the mysterious noise was coming from. She discovered nothing.

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At this point, she wondered who the original bag owners were. Why did they path with something so precious just like that?


An Extraordinary Bag

Sarah started looking for clues as she now realized this was no ordinary bag. After a long time of intense searching, she finally found something that might provide answers to this puzzle. Close to the bag’s interior pockets, in its inner lining, was a little hole. It was so tiny that she couldn’t fit her fingers conveniently into it.

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Somehow, she knew this mystery would be solved if she found out what was in the hole.


Let's Get to the Bottom of It

Quitting wasn’t an option for Sarah. So, she kept expanding the hole until her hands could get in. She wanted to search through every part of the bag’s lining to figure out what the noise and heaviness were all about.

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Sarah worked very hard at this. Fortunately, her efforts were successful as the hole eventually widened enough for her to slip her hand inside.


An Incredible Discovery

Upon placing her hand inside the hole in the bag’s interior lining, it struck an object. She wasted no time pulling the object out and couldn’t believe what she saw. It was a tiny but beautiful blue Sony camera, and she had no idea it had been in the stylish bag all this while.

Source: Facts World/YouTube

Now that one part of the mystery was solved, she needed to unravel the other part immediately. Who was the owner of the camera?


What Next?

Sarah was surprised and confused at the same time. She had no idea what the proper next steps were. Of course, she was going to look through the pictures to discover the owners. But did she also have to return it to Goodwill to get it sorted?

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Then something crossed her mind — was going through the pictures not invading the privacy of the owners? Now she was a little more confused.


Priceless Moments

Sarah needed to make up her mind. So, she decided to look through the photos. They were pictures of an adorable kid and his mom, and she started to get emotional as she admired them.

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She immediately knew that the photos captured priceless mother-child moments that the owners would love to relive all those lives. What if they were somewhere out there searching for these pictures, hoping that they’ll find them again?


The True Test of Character

In today’s world, where doing the right thing is no longer the norm, Sarah could have kept her discovery to herself. But she knew better than to be the reason for someone else’s pain.

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“I didn’t buy a camera, I bought a bag, and that’s wrong. I live by the golden rule. I would hate someone to do that to me,” she reasoned.


All Questions, No Answers

Sarah knew she had to get the camera across to the true owners. But how was she going to do that when she had no idea who they were? Where was she going to start the search from?

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Although there were Goodwill stores in all 50 states in the country, her knowledge of how they operated was limited to the fact that they sold thrift items. Were the donations from locals or around the USA? She had no idea.


The Power of Social Media

Suddenly, an idea struck her. She was going to leverage the power of social media to spread the word. Luckily, she had an impressive Facebook following, so that wouldn’t be much of a problem.

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Sarah wasn’t 100% sure that this was going to work. But it was a good step in the right direction, and she decided to make the move.


Let's Start with Facebook

“I’m not sure if this is ok to post here, but I purchased a diaper bag at Goodwill and found a blue Sony Cybershot camera inside with photos. Does anyone know who this family or the people in these pictures are? I want to make sure they get their camera and most definitely their SD card,” she wrote on her Facebook.

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She also uploaded some of the lost pictures from the camera before hitting the send button. Now was the time to wait patiently and hope her actions yielded results.


Unexpected Responses

Sarah had no idea how interested her followers would be in helping her fulfill this mission. The shares and likes kept increasing with each passing second as everyone wanted the post to go viral.

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Fortunately, it didn’t take too long before a follower identified the owner of the camera from the photos she posted. She found that the woman was named Katie Connor, and Sarah immediately swung into action by reaching out to her via her Facebook profile.


A Surprising Twist

Sarah had no idea that the surprises she had experienced in recent times were far from over. She just wanted to return the camera and carry on with her life as she knew it. But fate had something else in store for her.

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Upon contacting Katie, Sarah got a shocker — Katie said she didn’t have a missing camera. Sarah wondered what was happening. Did her follower make a mistake?


A Trip Down Memory Lane

Sarah wasn’t going to give up at this point. She had gone too far to throw in the towel. So, she decided to jog Katie’s memory by showing her more pictures. Fortunately, her efforts paid off.

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After taking a look at more of the pictures, Katie remembered that they were taken a few minutes after she had her son. This was a miracle! She thought she was never going to retrieve these precious pictures.


Let's Meet Up

Sarah and Katie agreed to meet at a local Target to exchange the cameras. But the story was nowhere near the end.

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The more they communicated on Facebook, the more they were sure they’d have no problem recognizing each other in real life. Sarah had seen Katie’s face in the pictures, and Katie, in turn, could tell what Sarah looked like from her profile picture.


Overwhelmed with Emotions

As the time approached for them to meet, the two women felt a range of emotions rushing through them.

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Even though they had chatted a lot prior to their meeting, they still felt nervous physically seeing each other on their first meeting.


Back to Its Rightful Owner

Sarah learned the camera had been missing for about seven years with no trace. That was a pretty long time, and Katie had decided to forget about it. She didn’t believe she would ever see her precious blue camera again.

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“It’s been a while since I’ve seen this camera. I think we thought it was long gone,” Katie said after thanking Sarah.


She Had No Choice

Of course, Sarah was surprised. She had no idea that the toddler in the pictures was now seven years old. Katie’s heart also melted when she saw old pictures of her adorable son. It was such an emotional period for her, and she couldn’t wait to return home and spend quality time reminiscing.

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Katie expressed her gratitude to Sarah with excitement in her eyes. It was a heartwarming moment for both of them.


Becoming Popular

Beautiful stories like this are meant to be shared, and the news channels couldn’t agree more. Before long, newspapers carried Sarah’s story – it went viral, gracing the headlines of many newspapers in the state.

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Everyone kept wondering what motivated Sarah to find Katie and return the pictures. Sarah was surprised that people were fascinated by her decision to do the right thing.


A Lesson for All

For Sarah, tracking Katie and returning the camera was the only option she had. She couldn’t have lived with herself knowing she had someone else’s property she never paid for. Sarah knew the pictures were priceless and held sentimental value for the owner.

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There are many lessons to learn from this story. Here’s ours — determination always yields results, and doing the right thing will never go out of fashion.