A trip to the HATS Thrift Store on Station Street in Duncan last week turned into a big surprise for Loretta Simms.
Simms was browsing for items to buy in the store, owned and operated by the Cowichan Hospital Auxiliary, and bought a couple of small boxes of Q-tips for $1 as part of her purchases.
She said that when she got home and checked the contents of one of the Q-tip boxes, she discovered eight gold rings with diamonds and other precious jewels embedded into them, and a necklace.
Simms, who is originally from Newfoundland, said she believed that someone was perhaps cleaning their home and put the rings and necklace into the box for safe keeping before accidentally discarding them.
“If it was my jewellery, I’d want it returned,” she said.
“I decided that I would go back to the thrift store and see if I could find out where the jewelry came from.”
Arlene Cristofoli, managing director at the thrift store, said she was also surprised when Simms came into the store and showed her the rings and necklace.
She said the Q-tip boxes were part of a large donation of household items that came into the store from a man whose sister recently died.
Cristofoli said the man was from out of the country and left quickly after donating many items over several days, including the Q-tip boxes.
Upon learning of the origin of the jewelry, and the fact that the owner was dead and the brother had left the country, Simms decided to donate the rings and necklace to the hospital auxiliary.
“In my heart of hearts, I felt that that was the best thing I could do,” she said.
“The organization does great work in the community. Besides, the rings were way too big to fit on my fingers anyway.”
Cristofoli said the jewelry will be put up for sale at the thrift shop, with the proceeds going to help buy needed hospital equipment and patient care.
“This doesn’t happen very often,” she said.
“We sometimes find money in purses and pockets, but nothing like this. Loretta is a wonderful lady and we’re so thankful that’s she’s such an honest person and wanted the jewelry to go to a good cause.”