One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Only what if it wasn’t meant to be trash in the first place? Is it then called finders keepers? Not when kindness is involved.

A woman in Ohio named Jessica was doing a little de-cluttering when she mistakenly put her daughters’ savings bonds and some family photos into the recycling pile. She hadn’t even realized her mistake until she received a phone call, and then a letter, from the man who found her belongings.

Jessica says she was blown away by the compassion an employee felt when he saw something that didn’t quite look like it belonged at the recycling facility.

“I was the recipient of a great act of kindness from a total stranger! I accidentally threw this bag of stuff into recycling, and a recycling employee went through all the phone numbers (from 2003!) and tracked me down.”

Jessica eventually got back all of her possessions, along with this letter from the employee.

“I am fairly new to this company and didn’t realize they have a policy for situations like this. I was supposed to turn the items in to the front office and let them handle it. How embarrassing!

Upon reflection I see that a ham-handed phone call from a random stranger was not the best course of action to take in this day and age.

All I can say is that I found some little girls’ bonds, and with those bonds were photos of their little faces, and with those photos was a list of phone numbers. In a situation like that I challenge anyone to not overreact, at least a little bit, regardless of the times we live in or other people’s policies.

The main thing is that they are getting them back, and I am very, very happy I could do it for them. The odds of things happening the way they did are so small. I can’t help but believe they are meant to cash these in someday and do something wonderful with the money. Maybe seed money for a campaign fund. Maybe just taking elderly parents out for a nice dinner and a show. Whatever it is, it will be wonderful.”

The thing about kindness is that it can make “right” all the things that we do “wrong.”

Jessica didn’t mean to throw out those savings bonds. The man at the recycling center wasn’t supposed to take matters into his own hands. But it doesn’t matter, because kindness wins. It covers our flaws and reminds us there are some very good people in this world. Every once in a while, kindness gives us the chance to meet them — and to be them.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.

Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. You can visit Nicole at