What do you use as a bookmark? An old receipt? A playing card? An extra wallet-size school photo of your kids? Whatever you may prefer, we all understand how easy it is to forget about them altogether by the time we move on to our next read.
That’s why Emma Smreker of Oklahoma has made a hobby out of searching for discarded “bookmarks” in used bookstores. She said it’s “like a scavenger hunt.” While most of the items she discovers are fairly unremarkable, every now and then, she comes across something with sentimental value — and makes it her mission to return it!
Emma’s fascination with these forgotten knickknacks started in early 2018 when she found an old receipt in a used book she got as a gift. From there, she started seeking out the misplaced items.
She explained that she’s drawn to them because it feels like their owners are “leaving kind of a mystery for the next person that finds it.”
When she happens upon something she thinks may be of value, Emma doesn’t just add it to her collection. Instead, she tries to seek the individuals or families out!
In July 2019, for example, she found a photo strip of a father with his young daughter in an old copy of “We Don’t Die: George Anderson’s Conversations With the Other Side.”
The series of images held four photos of the pair smiling, laughing, and making funny faces. As soon as Emma saw it, she knew she needed to return it to the family!
She went all out, calling the golf course that was visible on the father’s shirt logo, posting the information on social media, and even contacting her own local news outlets to get the word out.
After more than a year, the young girl’s mom, Maria Meagher, got in touch with Emma to claim the photo!
As it turns out, the strip was taken 13 years ago during a family trip to an amusement park in California! Their daughter Sofia is now 17 years old, and her dad Tom can’t believe they got to reunite with such a fond memory after all this time!
Tom said seeing the picture of “Sofia so young brought a tear to my eye.” As for Maria, she added, “Emma is a bright light.” How could she not be when she goes through so much trouble for complete strangers?
What a wonderful way to relive old memories! Emma plans to continue her mission by working hard to track down these items’ original owners. You can follow her nostalgic treasure hunts on Instagram.
Share this story to help Emma spread the word so she can get these sentimental items home.
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