Priceless treasure from Goodwill

Priceless treasure from Goodwill Outlet Store

By Ginger Manley

Tara Tolbert is a Nashville mom who loves thrifting. In fact she loves it so much she visits the Goodwill Retail stores almost every day and the Outlet Store almost every week, looking for children’s toys, books, and clothes. Last year when her son went to college she converted her hobby into a business, flipping her purchases and selling them on eBay as a way to pay his college tuition.

Unlike the Goodwill Retail stores which are located all over Nashville and are arranged much like any department store, there is only one Goodwill Outlet Store, located on Berry Road right next to the railroad track. At the Outlet Store, Tara says, "Everything is thrown in huge bins and people dig, sift, and look for treasures." A few years ago someone found an original copy of the Declaration of Independence, now authenticated,in one of those bins.

June 23, 2015, was Tara's weekly Outlet foray. While shopping, she often texts her sister, who also shares a love of thrifting, and that day she repeatedly sent her sister messages and photos captioned, "Look what I found! Look what I found!" Discovering wonderful treasures in every corner, she turned to a bin containing an old baby book. "I grabbed the book and started looking at it... I was amazed that it still had so much in it because many of the pieces (old letters, cards, pictures) were simply placed inside the book." The last text and picture Tara sent her sister that day was of the baby book she'd found. "This is my favorite treasure by far," she said.

Tara opened the book and saw it was started on June 7, 1965 when Carl Kimmel Kirkpatrick III, known as Kimmel, was born in Kingsport, TN to parents Carl and Donna Kirkpatrick. "Kingsport is close to home for me as I am from Bristol and have family all over the Tri-Cities. This made me more intrigued so I brought it home with me and spent some time reading through it. My 8-year-old daughter, Ryleigh, told me it may be a little rude for us to read somebody else's stuff. I told her that this was somebody's history and we were going to find the owner! It became my mission."

Tara posted a message on FaceBook hoping some of her Tri-Cities area friends or family might have a lead on Kimmel. Quickly her sister responded, telling her Kimmel had passed away in August of 2007.

Tara says, "I was very sad about this.  This made me want to find his mom even more so she could have this piece of his life back.  Just having our first, a son, venture out into life, I couldn’t imagine losing a child, regardless of the age."

She turned to the Internet again in search of Kimmel's obituary and discovered he was survived by his wife, Kitty and mother, Donna K. Maddox and father, Carl K. Kirkpatrick.

"I really started working to put the pieces of a puzzle together." She discovered Donna and Carl had divorced in the 1990's and each had married other people. "I learned very quickly that Mr. Kirkpatrick, the father I'd seen in the pictures in the baby book, had passed away in 2013."

Tara became even more motivated to locate Donna, now married to Dr. Robert Maddox, and she learned Donna had ties in Nashville and in Florida. "I came across several websites with Donna’s name attached to them.  Each one gave me something new to Google, and each one gave me a glimpse of what a wonderful person she is. I stumbled on one talking about her being on their Board of Directors so I started googling her name in relation to organizations.That is when TNAP (The Nurses Apron Partnership) came up.  It actually took me to the page where it shows her bio.  That is when I contacted TNAP to let them know I was looking for Ms. Maddox."

On the morning of June 26, 2015, Ginger Manley received in her email inbox this message forwarded from the TNAP website:
Your Name: Tara Tolbert
Email Address:
Message: I am trying to locate a Donna Maddox. I would appreciate any help!

In 2006, Ginger edited Gotcha Covered: A Legacy of Service and Protection, an anthology of stories written by fifty registered nurses reflecting on vintage 1950's aprons inherited by Manley from her Aunt Katherine Maloney. Donna Maddox, an acquaintance of Manley through their nursing backgrounds and mutual friends, had "adopted" one of these aprons, a fancy Christmas one, and written a brief memoir from her early adult life relative to a Christmas apron. Her biographical sketch on the TNAP website ( mentioned Donna having authored the book, Message of the Cameos.

The TNAP website had remained active though little visited after the first flurry of the apron book. Manley says, "The annual renewal notice for the website had recently arrived and although the amount was not significant, I had been considering shutting it down rather than renewing it. I was surprised to receive a website inquiry and hesitated for a few hours about forwarding it to Donna, with whom I had last been in contact in 2014 when Dr. Maddox passed away."

Donna answered Manley right away saying she had received the forwarded request and would respond to Tara. "I could not imagine what would be so important that a stranger would search long enough to find my name linked to Ginger!  Perhaps through the apron book!   Finding my name linked to Ginger was rather a miracle itself! "

Tara continues, "I was beside myself when I woke up the next morning and saw an email with the subject line saying Donna Maddox.  I was so so excited.  I was also a little nervous because I wasn’t sure what her reaction would be.  After all, I had totally been stalking her life. :)"

From Florida Donna picks up the story to Manley later that day, "I contacted Tara who tells me she found my son's baby book at the Goodwill store! How absolutely wonderful! I closed on our Nashville home on June 10th of this year and shortly thereafter moved to Florida permanently. Several different friends and relatives volunteered to take boxes to Goodwill and to UPS for shipping to Florida. I thought my son's baby book was safe in a box with scarves heading to my new home in Florida! I will likely never know what else might have gone to Goodwill unintentionally."

Donna continues, "Tara is going to send me Carl Kimmel Kirkpatrick, III's baby book and I am sending her my book, Message of the Cameos...and a cameo pin and Jesus praying pendant which were created to go with the book! There are two cameos in the book about miracles involving my then young son."

Before mailing the baby book to Florida, Tara and Ryleigh posed for a selfie with the found treasure.
Tara with Ryleigh
Tara asked Ryleigh if they had done the right thing by reading the book. Ryleigh responded with an absolute “yes!”  She said she was glad to make Ms. Maddox happy in getting the book back to her.  She said it had made her sad that she had lost it. 

Donna received the treasured book on July 3.

Dear Tara,
Tonight has been wonderful!  My sister and brother-in-law are here and we went through every page and item in the baby book!  There were notes from my sister's mother (deceased) (we are half sisters) that she loved reading and a few pictures of my sister taken in the baptismal dress our dad, she and my son all three were baptized in!  There were notes from my mother too!  Such fun and sweet memories we all had of my son and our family!
I can never thank you enough!!
Sent from my iPhone

> On Jul 3, 2015, at 9:50 PM,
Tara Tolbert <> wrote:
> Ohhhh Ms. Donna, this brings tears to my eyes! I'm sure this is full of so many different emotions for you.
Big hugs to you, I am so glad our paths have crossed in this unusual way. I am also so glad you have this special piece of your history back. It makes my heart full.
> Tara

Donna closes this story, "I feel divinely blessed to have the book returned to me and will be forever grateful to Tara, my new friend, for not giving up until she found me and returned my son's baby book!  I believe that the lost and found baby's book was a Divine occurrence with a happy ending and unknown blessings!"