Sanitation worker returns cash-filled birthday card

Trash pick up meant delivery as well

MEDINA, Ohio - Seasonal employee for Medina's City Sanitation Department Josh Kerns had seen just about everything flipping in and out of his sanitation truck's compactor since he began his job last summer. But, on the dark morning of February 13 a simple-looking purple card still sealed, with only a handwritten name, "Lucy," inscribed on it caught his eye among the birthday paper wrapping that fell from a tumbling box.

Crawling back into the truck for the next home's pick up the plain, pristine card sitting above the garbage weighed on Kerns' mind.

"So, I went back and picked it up," said Kerns. "It was before 6 a.m., so I didn't think they'd appreciate me knocking on the door."

Arriving back at the Medina City Garage Kerns opened the card to see if it meant anything to someone. His eyes took in the contents with amazement. He immediately took the card to his assistant foreman, Bob DePew.

"He had the envelope and a card in his hand and he said, there's fifty dollars in here and it's got this lady's name on it. So he says I've got to do the right thing, we've got to get it back to her," said DePew. "So we got into our small truck and I said do you know what house it was? He said, Oh I know exactly what house it was. So we go back there, knocked on the door, asked them if they had a daughter named Lucy because he thought that it was a young girl that the card was for because they found some children's birthday package wrapping in the trash. And the gentleman at the door said, no, that's my wife. And she comes to the door and Josh goes, Are you Lucy? She goes, yeah. And says well, happy birthday and hands her the envelope with the money in it. She was very surprised and very happy."

"I would hope anyone would do the same for me," said Kerns. "It was just the right thing to do."

As it turns out, the card had been sent from the sister-in-law of Lucy Hamer, who had packed cards and presents in one large package. Hamer said she had just had a birthday, while her son received late Christmas gifts in the same box. Hamer's son had not seen the card in the box mixed in with his presents, nor had Lucy. And off the boxes, and the card, had gone to the trash can on their tree lawn the next day.

"She was a little shocked," said Kerns

If not for Kerns, a fifty dollar bill would be in a local landfill. And more importantly, a thank you note would never have been written to Hamer's sister-in-law to thank her for the gift never seen inside her son's package.

"I was pretty shocked. When he came back and brought the card back I was really shocked. You don't expect to see something come back from the trash! And it did, so I thought that was a great job and they just went above and beyond and came back to find me to give me that birthday card," said Hamer.

And a possible future family tension-moment wondering why a thank you note never made it in the mail was averted.

"It could have been a bad issue, yeah, there was thank you note for that one," exclaimed Hamer.


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