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Long lost WWII love letters found in donated jewelry box and returned to family

Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 3:38 PM CDT
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KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WCYB/CNN) – Employees at a Goodwill in Tennessee found a treasure in one of their recent donations.

They discovered lost love letters from WWII and made sure they were united with family members of their owners.

“Well, there’s been a lot of strange – there’s been a lot of good things, a lot of weird things,” said employee Holly Saylor of the unique items that are donated to the Goodwill in Kingsport, Tennessee.

A recent donation fit into all three categories when a man brought in some items to donate.

“You know it’s old, but the leg is broken, but maybe somebody will buy it,” employee Melinda Brumitt said about a jewelry box that caught her eye.

“It was kind of heavy, so I picked it up, opened it, and saw some letters in it,” Saylor explained. “Took the first one out and read it, and I was like this is a mistaken donation.”

Saylor told her co-worker Isabella Hilton what she found.

“I said, ‘Do you realize when these were written?’ They were like, ‘no, what are you talking about?’ I said, ‘these are dated 1944 in Germany,’” Hilton recalled.

The letters belonged to childhood sweethearts Betty and Gene Herron. They grew up in the Tri-Cities area.

They’re letters Gene wrote to Betty while he served in the U.S. military during WWII.

The workers knew they needed to get those letters back to their rightful owners, and what happened next was an important step to make that happen.

“It just so happened the day he came back. I was working donations again, and I said, ‘we’ve got something for you,’” Brummitt said.

Workers learned that Gene and Betty had both recently passed away.

When family members were cleaning out their old house, one of the grandchildren took something in the keepsake pile to Goodwill by mistake.

Their daughter, Gayle Skelton, says it means so much to have those letters back.

Copyright 2021 WCYB via CNN Newsource. All rights reserved.