June 27, 2016

Partly sunny

Sanitation worker discovers, delivers belated birthday gift

Lucy Hamer was used to Medina sanitation workers picking up her trash, but was surprised when they knocked on her door last week.

They were on a mission: Returning a birthday card they found in her garbage.

The card included a $50 bill and well-wishes from her sister-in-law inside an envelope that had been thrown out unopened.

Josh Kerns, a Medina sanitation worker, found a $50 bill in a birthday card while on a route last week. He returned the card to the owner. (LOREN GENSON / GAZETTE)

Josh Kerns, a Medina sanitation worker, found a $50 bill in a birthday card while on a route last week. He returned the card to the owner. (LOREN GENSON / GAZETTE)

“They found it in the trash and they took the time to come and give it back to me,” Hamer said. “I feel like they just went above and beyond.”

Josh Kerns, of Milton Township in Wayne County, and his supervisor, Bob Depew, went to Kerns’ home on Greenwood Court to return the letter.

Kerns remembered scraping the purple letter out of a trash can in front of Kerns home.

“We went to dump the can; it was just stuck in there,” Kerns said. “It wasn’t open, and it looked important.”

He hung onto the letter and he and his fellow crew members finished their route. When they returned to the service garage on West Smith Road, Kerns decided to open the envelope to make sure there was nothing important inside before tossing it away. Inside, he found the birthday card and the money.

He and Depew headed back to Greenwood Court.

“In this day and age, $50 is a lot of money,” Kerns said. “It’s a tank of gas. We had to take it back to her.”

Hamer said she was surprised to get the card because she had no idea it was missing. The card was sent inside a box with presents to her son, who opened the box but left the envelope addressed to his mother inside. He forgot to tell her about it, and the box ended up in the trash.

Hamer said she was impressed workers took the time to open the envelope, and then to return it to her. She called the department to thank Kerns and his boss, but she also contacted The Gazette.

“They don’t get a lot of thanks for the hard job they do,” Hamer said. “I wanted to make sure they got recognized.”

John Lengacher, sanitation foreman for Medina, said it’s not often there’s a happy ending for items that get thrown away inadvertently.

“Usually by the time they realize it’s gone, we don’t have the trash here anymore,” he said. “We only have it in our possession for a few hours. A lot of people call because they’ve lost things and it’s usually too late.”

Hamer also joked that getting the birthday card may have helped to avoid any potential animosity at the next family gathering with her sister-in-law.

“She would have been wondering why I didn’t thank her for the card, and I might have been wondering why she didn’t send one,” Hamer said. “It could have been awkward.”

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.

Loren Genson About Loren Genson

Loren Genson was The Gazette's senior reporter. From August 2012 through September 2015, she covered Brunswick city and state and national government. To contact The Gazette, call the managing editor at (330) 721-4065.