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Lost & Found: The things students will lose

The coat fence holds an abundance of items left behind at Miramar Ranch Elementary. (courtesy photo)

Lost & Found: The things students will lose

By Kaila Mellos

Naomi Chavez has seen firsthand what young students leave behind after a long day at Miramar Ranch Elementary School. As a parent and volunteer lost and found coordinator, and a Family Faculty Association (FFA) member, she has taken it upon herself to collect items daily around campus.

“The things that I have found range. It’s something different every time I am there,” Chavez said. “It’s not just the jackets that I hang for parents to pick up, but there are also hats, beanies, umbrellas, barrettes, water bottles, and full lunches that have not even been touched, some with mold and bugs. I have even found a dress in October, and some jeans in January.”

When Chavez does her daily walk-throughs at the school, she takes a wagon to collect all the items she finds along the way.

“In the past, I do two wagon trips through the campus usually,” Chavez said. “Earlier this month, I did four wagon carts full. It was so full to the rim that another parent had to help me climb the hill because they kept falling off the wagon.”

The items in the wagon end up in one of two places on campus: the cafeteria in a lost and found cubby, or the fence along the outside recess area. The cubby in the cafeteria is the first place everything ends up, with hopes the items will be claimed by the kids. After that, Chavez tries to put everything out on the fence at least once a month to see if parents can help move things out of the school’s possession.

“We always leave it out for a week or two if it’s not going to rain,” Chavez said. “When they are not claimed, I pick up the jackets, put them in big trash bags, and then the principal decides where we will donate them: either to Salvation Army or Goodwill most of the time.”

Chavez noted that many name-brand and expensive jackets go unclaimed in the lost and found fence roundup even after there are multiple emails and snippets in the school newsletter to check for kids’ items.

“Some of the jackets are expensive brands that look brand new, and I just cannot believe that they go unclaimed to be donated away,” she said.

One thing that has happened very rarely, but has helped a lot with reuniting lost items is the names written on the items, whether on the tags, printed on the lunch boxes or a sticker with a kid’s name on a water bottle.

“If they have names, I go to the office and they can give me the student’s room number and take it to them,” Chavez said. “Half the time, that’s not the case. However, I have been able to return around five items because they had someone’s phone number and last name written on the tag. Even initials would be a big help for the process.”

Chavez hopes that items in the school’s lost and found can be slowly reduced by parents checking the cafeteria cubby and monthly coat hang-ups more often if they suspect their student may have misplaced some items.