One woman is having a very merry Christmas, indeed, all thanks to the honesty and determination of a complete stranger.
"When I saw it, I said, 'God, this is really a pretty ring. Somebody's going to be heartbroken," Shirley Grandey, a volunteer at the Anne Arundel Alarmers' Christmas tree lot in Millersville, Md., told GoodMorningAmerica.com of her accidental discovery on Dec. 10.
When Grandey, 62, was cleaning up a large pile of pine needles, tree limbs and dirt at the end of her hard work day, she never expected to come across someone's cherished diamond ring lying lonely among a pile of discarded trash.
"I was raking and when I looked down, it was like a star. It just glittered," she explained. "I bent down and picked it up and there it was. It was beautiful."
Knowing the gold and diamond intertwined ring probably not only had significant monetary value but, more importantly, sentimental value, Grandey held onto the jewelry and made it her mission to find the owner.
"I said, 'Oh God, I have to find the owner,'" Grandey recalled, before making the decision to contact her CBS affiliate, WJZ-TV, to help spread the word. "It was definitely a love ring. It was intertwined and had their names on it."
Her efforts paid off.
"The brother of the girl saw it on television and told her," said Grandey, who couldn't have been happier to return the lost ring to its original owner, Julie Sanalitro, two days after it was lost at the tree lot.
"I was screaming and running around the house," Sanalitro told the news station.
"That night when I went home [I] realized that usually my two rings click together," Sanalitro said. "And I noticed when I was laying in bed that they weren't, so I panicked a little bit."
When Sanalitro called to describe the ring, she explained it was a gift from her boyfriend, an old elementary school sweetheart, who had only given it to her two months ago when they recently reunited.
She was not only able to successfully answer all of Grandey's questions about the ring ensuring she was the original owner, but, Grandey added, "I knew it was her the moment she was walking up."
"We just hugged each other and she had a few tears," the gracious volunteer explained.
All that Grandey asks from this experience is simply for people to "Pay it forward," she said. "I would want someone to give it back to me if I lost my ring, so just try to pay it forward."
- Society & Culture