This article appeared in the April 06, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Lost, found, and returned

Before returning a Buzz Lightyear action figure to the little boy who lost it, Jason Hamm, a Southwest Airlines ramp agent, took this photo of the toy on the tarmac to prove that Buzz had been on a mission, not in the lost-and-found.
Trudy Palmer
Cover Story Editor

As we return to indoor dining, group gatherings, and in-person school, we can count on one “institution” rebounding – the lost-and-found. Who knew that a bin full of gloves, sunglasses, and keys would be a welcome sign of recovery.

Even better is what’s lost, found, and returned. 

Earlier this year, a 2-year-old left his Buzz Lightyear action figure on a Southwest Airlines flight. Beth Buchanan, the operations agent who found it, recognized its value to a little kid, so she searched the passenger list for the name written on Buzz’s boot. With help from Jason Hamm, a ramp agent, she located the child’s family.

Then the fun began. To prove that, far from being lost, Buzz had been on a mission, Mr. Hamm took photos of Buzz on the tarmac and in the cockpit. Next, he wrote a letter to the little boy, signed by Buzz.

“I am very excited to return to you upon completing my mission,” it began.

After packing everything up, Mr. Hamm decorated the box with a drawing of Buzz and phrases from “Toy Story,” including, of course, “To infinity ... and beyond!”

No surprise, when the package arrived, the little boy was all smiles and his mom in tears, overwhelmed by the kindness of a perfect stranger.  

A great deal has been lost to the pandemic, most notably the loved ones we now find only in our hearts. But many of us have found treasures as well: hobbies, home-cooked meals, the art of conversation.

Here’s hoping we treat our return to “normal” with the same care and creativity Mr. Hamm showed in returning Buzz.

This article appeared in the April 06, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 04/06 edition
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