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May 5, 2021
A team of landfill workers in New Hanover County, NC, went above and beyond the call of duty to rescue an engagement ring and wedding band that had been accidentally put out with the trash. The green-vested team worked for hours sorting through layer upon layer of garbage bags until the right one was found — just minutes before closing time.
The drama played out last week when Pam Smith was cleaning the house and realized her precious bridal jewelry was missing.
“I just was frantic that I couldn’t find my rings,” Pam told NBC affiliate WECT in Wilmington. “But, I knew in my heart I had thrown them, accidentally in the trash.”
The waste collection truck was still in the Smith’s neighborhood when Pam realized her mistake. A few minutes later, Pam and her husband, Chuck, caught up with the truck, which was about 25 houses away.
“When they flagged me down, I didn’t know what was going on,” said crew member Elliott Holliday (not “Holiday” as seen in the graphic). “I just knew I saw a couple in distress.”
The Smiths told Holliday that their precious keepsake was likely in the back of his truck. The SRWS (Select Recycling Waste Services) professional could not safely dump the load right there on the street, so instead, he called ahead and alerted the New Hanover County landfill that they had a special situation.
Holliday and his partner, Kendrick Grady, were directed to a flat, open piece of land at the landfill where they unloaded the contents of their big rig.
Landfill specialist Kedar Brunson was inspired when he saw Pam Smith praying in front of his bulldozer.
“So I called my wife,” said Brunson, “and we were praying with her saying ‘Lord, show this woman favor.’”
A half-dozen workers snapped into action, picking through a seemingly endless mountain of trash bags.
“It’s like we went through every bag. We went through, literally, the last bag before we found it,” said Grady. “It was truly a miracle.”
Pam Smith was so moved by the incredible efforts of the landfill workers that she penned a letter to thank them.
She wrote, in part, “The events of that day made for an eventful time in our lives and we will forever remember the compassionate and understanding way we were treated. You have very professional staff and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
Pam Smith told WECT, “I just want people to remember there are a lot of good people on this Earth who are willing to help. And God is good.”
The New Hanover County Twitter account acknowledged the landfill workers in a special tweet on Friday.
It read, “If you need a #FeelGoodFriday – here it is. Thank you to our incredible #NHCgov Environmental Management team for going above and beyond in service to our community. We are so grateful for you and your limitless commitment to helping others!
The tweet was linked to the page on the WECT website, where the story was prominently displayed.
Credits: Screen captures via wect.com.