While covering shifts at the South Shore Plaza Target store in Braintree, Massachusetts, last week, Kimberly Davies Shipley noticed a well-loved stuffed bunny in the store's lost and found bin. The bunny had been there for over 30 days, and Target's policy is to donate items that stay in the lost and found bin that long to an approved donation center.
The bunny's time was up, but Shipley, a 37-year-old mother of two from Weymouth, Massachusetts, couldn't bear to let it go. "When I saw the bunny, I just couldn't put it in the bag for donation," she told TODAY Parents. "Thinking about my own kids losing a loved toy, I set it aside on my desk."
Shipley took a picture of the stuffed animal and decided to post it to a local moms' group, figuring someone might recognize "what was clearly a very loved bunny." Members of the group shared the post on Facebook, and it has now been shared over 7,600 times — but no one has claimed the lost Jellycat brand bunny yet.
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Shipley was moved to try to help the bunny find its way home because she knows how much it would mean to her own daughters, Coraline, 7, and Arya, 5. "My daughter Arya in particular is very attached to her stuffed animals," said Shipley. "She sleeps with a 'cuddle buddy' every night, and while she doesn't have just one, she cycles through a menagerie of very loved buddies."
Parents who have seen the posting appreciate Shipley's effort — and shared their own stories of lovies lost and found. Timothy Neuendorf, a Chicago dad of two, told TODAY Parents that losing his 3-year-old son Thomas's "lovey," a monkey named Big Monks, "is seriously one of my biggest fears. It makes me happy to see someone do this."
Neuendorf does not have a replacement for Big Monks, who was a gift from a family friend when Thomas was an infant. "By the time Thomas decided Big Monks was going to be by his side forever and ever and we thought that it might be a good idea to have a back up, Big Monks had been discontinued," Neuendorf explained.
Now the discontinued monkey goes for an outrageous price from third party sellers online. "That has made our close calls even more nerve-wracking," Neuendorf said.
Tara Wood of Augusta, Georgia, told TODAY Parents that her daughter Mia, now 12, has lost her own stuffed bunny named William three times since she received him when she was one year old.
The first time, Mia left William in a booth at a Chik-fil-A restaurant. "I managed to track him down within hours, but not before Mia lost half of her body weight from shedding so many tears," said Wood. "After that close call, I attached a small fabric luggage tag to his foot listing our last name and phone number."
That luggage tag came in handy a year later, when Mia left William in a seat at a movie theater. "The theater staff called me before we even realized William was missing," said Wood.
But eventually, the luggage tag fell off, and Wood never replaced it. Once again, William went missing, but that time, it was for weeks. "Mia was despondent — like her best friend had moved away without saying goodbye," said Wood. "I scoured eBay until I found an exact match and planned on passing off the new bunny as her beloved William. I'd even made up a fantastical story about him having been to a bunny factory to be cleaned and re-stuffed."
Wood never had to make the switch, though. Before the replacement bunny arrived, she found the beloved William at the bottom a clothes hamper; Mia had dumped out an overnight bag after a sleepover, and William was mixed in with the dirty clothes and pajamas. "This also shines a light on how often I do laundry," admitted Wood. Mia still has William ten years later.
Shipley is hoping she will be able to help this lost bunny find its own happy ending. "I've gotten great responses. Everyone at work is telling me how it has shown up on their [Facebook] newsfeed, which is awesome," she said. "Guests are approaching me, telling me that they have reposted the picture and asking if the bunny has found its owner."
Surely, that young owner is out there somewhere missing it too.