REDMOND, Wash. - A Bellevue grandmother wanted to help a Northwest charity, so she donated boxes of clothing and shoes she no longer needed. But that act of kindness led to heartbreak when she realized she'd accidentally given away her most precious jewelry.
It was 1942 when Gladys Bergstrom of Bellevue married her husband Marvin. World War II was raging so there was no fancy wedding.
But on their 40th anniversary, Marvin surprised her with a ring laden with diamonds - more than one and a half carats worth.
"It’s the only ring I have from him," said Bergstrom.
After 67 years of marriage, Marvin died last year and Bergstrom worried about someone stealing that ring and eight others she’d received over the years from friends and family. So she hid them.
"I always heard not to put them in the refrigerator and not to put them in your salt shaker, or sugar or flour canisters because they’d empty them,” she said. "So I thought I’d be smart and put them in a shoe."
But last week Bergstrom made a big mistake when she put her charitable donations out on the front porch for collection. She mistakenly included her white Easy Spirit shoes containing the precious rings she’d tried so hard to protect.
"I looked through the whole closet, couldn’t find them, so I knew then they had gone," she said.
Bergstrom said it was "a terrible feeling."
"I thought I was stupid," she said.
Bergstrom and her daughter drove straight to Value Village in Redmond where her donations had ended up.
Some of her shoes were there, but not the Easy Spirits.
Value Village sorts trough 800 shoes a day. Some wind up on shelves, others go into recycling. They never found the shoes Bergstrom was looking for.
Joan Allred, Value Village manager, told KING 5 News she feels bad for Bergstrom and had her staff search the sales floor and back warehouse where donations are sorted.
"We’re doing the best we can, really hope we find them," said Allred.
Bergstrom says she isn’t one to cry over lost possessions, but she hopes if someone finds her rings, they’ll show the same charity she did when she accidentally donated them.
"They mean so much to me," she said. "If they were your rings, you’d want them back."
The family is offering a $1,000 reward for the return of the lost jewelry.