I walked into the storage room at the Kalmiopsis Elementary School cafeteria this week in search of my daughter's lost jacket. Before me was a head-high stack of six clear, 50-gallon plastic bags stuffed with child-size jackets, sweatshirts, backpacks, reusable lunch bags and other misplaced items.
That's a lot of stuff.
I didn't find my daughter's jacket, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't tempted to grab another jacket in her size (there's some really nice stuff there!)
Schools aren't the only places where lost and found bins collect items faster than they are claimed.
Plenty of jackets, purses, hats, keys, sunglasses are left at Fred Meyer, according Store Director Matt Galli.
"Canes, glasses, keys and coats left at the service deli, that's most of what we find," Galli said. "More than 80 percent of those things are picked up by customers within an hour."
The store will hold on to personal and perishable items such as hairbrushes and baby bottles for an hour or so andndash; "in case the owners are still in the store," Galli said. After that, they go in the trash, he said.
Fred Meyer holds other lost items for 30 days before disposing of them or donating them to a local charity. The Brookings-Harbor Lions Club collects lost glasses once a month, Galli said. Clothes and other items go to non-profits such as the South Coast Humane Society and the Outreach Gospel Mission.
Cash and lost credit cards are properly recorded and kept for 30 days. After that, the credit cards are shredded. Cash goes to the store, Galli said.
Fred Meyer follows what Galli called a "finders law," in which a person who finds and turns in a lost item may come back after 30 days and claim it.
At the schools, children and parents have until June 9, when school ends, to claim lost items. Starting June 1, Kalmiopsis will display all its lost and found item on cafeteria tables for students and parents to sort through. Azalea Middle School officials will display lost items similarly the last week of school. Leftover items at both schools will be cleaned and donated to charites that serve children.
Judging by the amount of lost stuff at Kalmiopsis, there are going to be a lot of well-clothed children this year.
As a whole, people leave stuff everywhere andshy;andndash; while sitting on park benches, eating at restaurants, working out at the gym, watching a movie, playing at the beach.
Children are particularly prone to discarding things andndash; I guess they haven't developed a sense of just how much some of it costs, or don't care. Some parents, it seems, don't bother checking backpacks for their children's clothes, designer water bottle or cell phone. Perhaps it's because we live in such a disposable world, where things aren't made to last.
Or maybe it's laziness. Children and parents just don't want to expend the energy to get things back. Is buying a replacement simply easier? Do we simply assume the worst andndash; that somebody snagged it for themselves or threw it away?
Don't give up hope. Many lost items are sitting in boxes, drawers and shelves, waiting for the owners to claim them. But don't wait too long. Especially if your son or daughter has lost a something at school this year.
And if you happen to find a light blue jacket with the name Alia written on the collar, give me a call.