Webster City woman’s donation ends in surprise

A volunteer was sorting through donations made to The Key on Central in early November when she found something tucked into the toe of a slipper.

The slipper had been donated, along with clothing, purses, and shoes, by Paula Brownell, of Webster City.

Brownell made the donations on the afternoon of Nov. 7.

She parked her car in downtown Fort Dodge near the side entrance of the store and then went inside to explained to a woman that she had a number of donations.

Brownell helped the woman organize them.

“I explained sizes and what went together,” she said.

After that, Brownell decided she wanted to stop by the Beacon of Hope to greet Steve Roe, the director there.

The Beacon of Hope is a men’s shelter for the homeless. It is located near The Key.

“I asked if I could leave my car parked where it was and she said that was fine,” Brownell said.

Brownell walked across the street and began a conversation with Roe.

About 10 minutes later, the same woman from The Key entered the Beacon with a cloth sack in her hand.

“When I saw that my heart just sank,” Brownell said. “I knew it was a sack that I put gold jewelry in. I hadn’t seen that bag for five to seven years.”

“I looked and she said, ‘We found this in one of the slippers.'”

Brownell was in disbelief.

“I said I can’t believe you people brought it back to me,” Brownell said. “That is one of the most honest things.”

Brownell said the jewelry is real gold and contained multiple pieces of great value. She thinks she probably put the gold in the slipper during her travels and forgot it was there.

Brownell is grateful.

“It’s my understanding the lady that brought it back to me was a volunteer in there,” Brownell said. “It’s almost like the ones that volunteer are more apt to return something because they have a special gift within them to do something good for people anyway.”

The gesture is one Brownell won’t soon forget.

“I am 76 years old and when that happened that was one of the best things that could have happened in my lifetime,” she said.

All of the donations made to The Key on Central are used to benefit the Domestic and Sexual Assault Outreach Center. D/SAOC is the crisis-based shelter for 20 north central Iowa counties.