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Goodwill shopper reunites family with photos left behind in projector

Have you ever taken a stroll through a Goodwill store? There are all sorts of items to be found, from clothes and electronics to kitchenware and art.

Generally whatever you find there is useful and very inexpensive. That the money spent in the store goes to a good cause is a bonus, and occasionally someone finds something truly unique and special.

That is the case for a woman who found a projector at a Goodwill store in Georgia. After taking a closer look at it, she realized there was more to her purchase than she realized.

Someone’s memories were left inside

Kristie Baeumert was simply looking for items to stock her vintage camper with, and the projector seemed like a great fit. It cost $14.97 and it looked vintage on the outside of the case, so she took a look inside the box.

Everything looked good, so Baeumert took it to the register to buy it. That’s when she along with the cashier discovered there were still slides inside the projector. After getting a look at them when she got home, Baeumert realized they were photos of a family.

Not just any photos, but the kind that seemed to tell a story. Yet it was not her story; she didn’t know whose story it was. So she took to Facebook to try and get help to identify the people in the slides, which did not have any names or locations.

Ultimately she wanted to get the slides back to the family to which they belonged.

They contained some clues

While there wasn’t anything direct to go off of, the images did provide some hints as to at least what kind of life the people in them lived. One involves a long plane with “Wake Island” on it, which gives the idea that this was a military family.

The cars shown appear to be from the late 1950s, and there were black children and white children pictured together. The Supreme Court ruled on Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, saying segregation in schools was unconstitutional.

The clothes worn by everyone in the pictures was another hint, and combined with their activities everything in the slides points to a specific era.

You know what? The family was found

Baeumert originally posted her find and story on Facebook on June 15, and not surprisingly it spread near and far. At some point, someone from the family saw the story on the news and got in touch.

Baeumert said she spoke with a “very lovely woman” who asked that the photographs be turned over privately and without any media attention.

It created a happy ending for a story that seemed unlikely to produce one. Even with as many clues as there were, nothing was guaranteed. There are 60 or so Goodwill stores in North Georgia alone, with almost the same number of donation centers.

A Goodwill spokesman for the region said they collect about 2.8 million donations per year, meaning it’s easy for an individual item to kind of get lost in the shuffle. That’s not to say Goodwill does not try to reunite special items with those who left them, just that it’s incredibly difficult to accomplish.

But in this case it happened, which makes for a nice ending to a very interesting story.

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