Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Post office hunts down lost Christmas cash Largo woman mailed to grandchildren

Evelyn Wilson stands next to her husband, Bill, as she holds a photo of their grandsons Kyle, left, and Tyler Wilson.

KATHLEEN FLYNN | Times

Evelyn Wilson stands next to her husband, Bill, as she holds a photo of their grandsons Kyle, left, and Tyler Wilson.

LARGO — When Evelyn Wilson mailed off some holiday packages a few weeks ago, she didn't think she had anything to worry about.

She'd made sure there was plenty of time for the presents to get to their destination. She even beat the rush.

But two days before Christmas, Wilson, 79, got a call from her son in Knox, Ind.

The package had arrived, he told his mother. The gifts Wilson had put inside — some Christmas cash for her two college-aged grandsons — had not.

"My son said, 'Hey, Mom, how come you sent me a red envelope with nothing in it?' "

Wilson's heart sank.

She and her husband, Bill, were already in Jacksonville, spending the holiday with their daughter. There was no way to send more money in time.

Their son, John, told them not to worry. He'd make sure his sons got the money, and his parents could repay him some other time.

But in the meantime, John Wilson also contacted his local post office, which sent a message to Largo Postmaster Pam West on Christmas Eve.

Could anything be done, the family wondered?

West got her team in Florida working.

"I really wanted to see a good outcome," she said Wednesday.

West sent a message to the precessing plants in Tampa and St. Petersburg. She asked them to check the area that handles items found loose in mail.

Staff members were told to look for two white gift envelopes with a special seal on the back: "Do Not Open until Christmas."

Still, neither West nor the Wilsons were particularly hopeful.

"We process millions of pieces of mail, and for us to find two $50 bills … it's like looking for a needle in a haystack," said West, a 22-year Postal Service employee.

Nothing turned up for a few days. On Monday, Wilson called West when she got back to town.

This time, West had good news.

A clerk in Tampa had found the money. The envelopes hadn't even been opened.

Officials say it's likely that Wilson's package, an oversized outer envelope that included the two gift envelopes and cards inside, got stuck and torn in an automated mail machine.

"All it takes is one piece that's bulky for that thing to jam," West said.

The post office is sending Wilson a $100 money order.

"I really appreciate everything they did — and only in a week," Wilson said. "We figured if somebody did find the money, they wouldn't know who it belonged to and they would keep it."

Wilson, a retired bookkeeper, said she just wanted to do something nice for her grandsons.

Tyler, 22, recently graduated from Purdue University with a liberal arts degree. Kyle, 21, is in college studying to be a pharmacist.

The brothers often call their grandparents just to talk, Wilson said.

"They can talk to us just like they talk to their friends," she said. "They're just so precious to us. We really enjoy them."

Wilson was lucky, West said. But the story is also a reminder for people not to send cash in the mail.

Lesson learned, said Wilson, who recently mailed out the replacement funds to her son.

This time, she sent a check, in a small envelope.

Kameel Stanley can be reached at kstanley@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8643.

Fast facts

Share your story of an act of kindness

Every day, people are making a difference in the Tampa Bay area: getting groceries for a sick neighbor; giving a bonus or day off to workers at a small business; visiting an elderly person who lives alone. We would like to share with readers the many ways that people, randomly, selflessly, take the time and effort to help others. Do you have a story about someone who goes beyond the call of duty? E-mail your tale to kindness@sptimes.com; make sure to include your name and phone number.

Post office hunts down lost Christmas cash Largo woman mailed to grandchildren 12/30/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 30, 2009 10:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pitching on no rest backfires for Erasmo Ramirez, Rays

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — After battling through a 61/2-hour affair Sunday in Minnesota that was the second-longest game in franchise history, Rays officials were quick to decide that even though Erasmo Ramirez had just worked the 15th and final inning, they would stick with him to start Monday's game in Texas.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers, comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  2. Britain investigating missed signals over Manchester bomber

    World

    LONDON — Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, is investigating its response to warnings from the public about the threat posed by Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a crowded Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, last week.

    People gather Monday at St. Ann’s Square in Manchester, England, to view tributes to victims of the suicide bombing that killed 22 on May 22 as a concert by Ariana Grande was concluding.
  3. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant

    Nation

    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and other similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]
  4. What major sporting event could Tampa Bay land next?

    Lightning Strikes

    We are on quite a roll as a community. First, we had a Super Bowl drop from the storm clouds into our lap. It just reaffirms the fact that Tampa Bay is great at lap. And Monday it became official: Next year's NHL All-Star Game will be held at Amalie Arena. The best in the world will be here to shoot and score. And …

    MVP Wayne Gretzky is congratulated at the 1999 NHL All-Star game, the last time the event was in Tampa Bay. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times file]
  5. How the 2018 NHL All-Star Game reflects Jeff Vinik's vision for Tampa

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There were several reasons the NHL announced Monday that Tampa will host the 2018 All-Star Game on Jan. 28.

    This was the  logo for the 1999 NHL All-Star game played Sunday, Jan 24, 1999 at the Ice Palace in Tampa Bay. (AP Photo)