They say one man’s junk is another man’s treasure, but in this story, a man’s treasure was mistaken as junk and given away.
Thanks to one Goodwill employee, a Navy veteran was able to get his treasure back.
“It was a late afternoon. We didn’t have many people at the donation door, so I was back there helping out,” Jessica Shepard told News 3. The Bluffton Goodwill employee is used to sorting through items people no longer want, but what she came across this day was different.
“I saw there were a bunch of rings and war medals, and a story in a really nice shadow box,” Shepard explained.
Then, she noticed the author of the article — dated 1988 — was her mom.
“It kind of hit me in the heart,” Shepard said. “We can’t send this off, we can’t sell it… that’s crazy.”
Under Goodwill policy, they had to. But Shepard was insistent.
“My manager had to talk to the district manager, who had to talk to the higher-ups to make sure I could take it,” she said.
Shepard took it home to her mother, Cathy Harley, who wrote for the Beaufort Gazzette for more than three decades.
“She couldn’t believe it,” Shepard recalled. “She didn’t remember writing the story, but when I brought it home, she remembered that and remembered the man, but we couldn’t find him.”
The man’s name in the article was Anthony Kollar. To help find him, Harley reached out to Daniel Byrne at the fire deparment.
“When she told me his name, it didn’t quite jive with me. Because at the fire department, we often know each other just by one name whether it’s your real name or not,” Byrne told News 3. “But, as soon as I saw the picture, yeah that’s Anthony, I know exactly who he is and exactly how we can track him down.”
Anthony Kollar says he got a phonecall from an old captain of his.
“He said, ‘Did you lose any navy memorabilia?’ And I said, ‘Not to my knowledge,'” Kollar recalled.
Then, he got a picture text of the shadowbox. Sure enough, it was him in Navy bootcamp in 1977.
“My daughter had put together a shadow box with some of our military stuff,” Kollar said. He pointed out the medals that his father got while serving in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.
“It was on the wall for years, and I took it off. I was going to paint the wall, laid it somewhere,” he explained. “Somebody came along and somehow it got in the bin that we donated to Goodwill.”
Kollar pointed out a special ring: “I wore that when I started as a chaplin for the City of Beaufort Fire Department.”
Back in 1988, that’s why Harley interviewed him. He was the city’s first volunteer firefighter chaplin.
“That is the providence of God,” Kollar said of the discovery. “He works behind the scenes, even when we have no clue.”
He was able to make it over to Goodwill and personally thank Shepard for her thoughtfulness.
“It just hit me and I couldn’t do anything, but we at least have to set this aside,” Shepard said.
The Navy vet says it’s people like her that deserve a little more recognition.
Because now, with shadowbox in hand, Kollar says he looks forward to sharing memories of his life and his father’s life with his daughter who can pass them down for generations to come.