Lost and Found

Piles of Clothes

Image by oriolsalvador via Flickr

          This prompt reminded me of my years spent working at a local, prestigious private school. I was initially hired as assistant to the elderly owners of the school and did everything from accompanying Mrs. Cohen on personal shopping trips, running errands, chauffeuring, to picking up dinners for the couple at local restaurants.          

          In no time though, my duties expanded to a full time job doing a variety of assignments at the school each day.  It was fun–with no two days alike. 

            When the weather started to cool down in early or mid December, this entailed the children adding jackets, sweaters, coats, hats and gloves to their wardrobe.  It also meant that all those items would be left behind at school.  The thing about Florida winters is that it can start out quite cool some mornings but usually by afternoon it’s warmed up nicely.  Thus the outerwear gets peeled off and left behind–somewhere.  We started off with a small area designated as “lost and found” but that space readily became overflowing with not only clothing items, but notebooks, backpacks, books, important school notices for parents, etc.  You name it; it got left at school. 

            Soon we required an entire large, walk-in closet-type structure to house the overflowing tide of articles arriving each day.  Hanging racks were installed and long shelves were built to hold the mounting piles of items.  The children were well aware of the lost and found room but many would not come and claim their belongings.  Families were encouraged to write the name of their student on their clothing for this very reason.

            Finally, at one desperate point, it became my duty to return as many items as possible to the students.  I went on an all-out attack!  I asked for a comprehensive list of all attendees from Pre-K 4s up to sixth graders and went down the list matching identifiable items to students.  I would deliver the bagged items to the students’ last period teacher so there would be less chance that they would be left behind yet again!

            After I had cleared out as much as I could, an announcement was sent home to each family stating that they had until an appointed date to claim any items missing and then the remainder would be donated to a charity.  Surprisingly, many very lovely (and some very expensive), gently worn jackets, coats and sweaters were never retrieved. 

            I always wondered about that and thought–was it just easier for the parents to buy another jacket, coat or sweater then stop by and pick up the missing one?  I guess so. 

My entry for Monday Morning Writing Prompt: Back to School   http://liv2write2day.wordpress.com/2011/08/28/monday-morning-writing-prompt-back-to-school/#respond

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  1. Wow. Lifestyles of the rich and famous. But what a bounty for those in need. Nice share.


  2. Isn’t it odd what is or isn’t important to people? I suppose those items would be out dated for the next year or out grown. At least, some very needy people were given some very nice clothing and things. This sounds like it was a very interesting job. I like when no two days are the same.
    Enjoyed the story.

    I have posted another chapter in the Isabella series. The back to school prompt served it well.

    Happy writing …
    Izzy xoxo


    • Yes, it is odd and the needy did get some very nice things. Good for them!

      Loved your Isabella back to school story. Very sweet–that prompt did serve it well.

      Gayle xoxo


  3. I was one of the few who had to check the lost and found. I believed if I replaced it, my children might never learn to look after their belongings. This is sort of a like mother/ like daughter story. 🙂 Good post.


  4. Ah, I wonder if that would happen these days. Things are not so disposable anymore.

    Nice essay … Fine work, Gayle.


  5. Interesting experience Gayle, I wonder the same … Isn’t waste of money to go get a new jacket, when you can simply go and check the lost and found items … but then if they really gave the items for charity, it was good for the kids that didn’t have anything at all …


    • It was frustrating and hard to believe that people didn’t care about their belongings.

      I’m glad that the clothing left behind went to those who would appreciate it. Thanks, Blaga.


  6. lucky for those needy people that got them.


    • So true.


      • one’s garbage can become another’s treasure. good that they atleast gave those things away in place of making them rat nest.


        • Yes, what one person does not hold valuable, can be quite important to another.

          That school had many humane activities for those less fortunate. We would make up hundreds of gifts for the homeless every year at Christmas. Each box was wrapped personally and beautifully by employees of the school. I loved imagining the recipient of each gift that I prepared.


          • well, thats what i will call a true school. this should be the first lesson schools giving out to kids- help those weaker than you.

            there are some schools like it, it would be so beautiful if all schools learn from them.


          • Probably because they are a private school, they can make their own rules (to a certain extent) of what they want to do. It’s a very important lesson for children–to show compassion for those less fortunate. This school’s focus was also on good manners. Classes were taught on good conduct. It made a huge difference on their behavior. I think it’s so important that all public schools should stress this too.



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