Rutherford County Solid Waste (RCSW) “saved the day” Thursday for one of its convenience center visitors.

Ms. Reshonda Kelly dropped her trash off at the center located at Leanna Wednesday afternoon just 30 minutes before closing time. Upon leaving the center, she stopped to get gas and realized she did not have her wallet. She looked everywhere in her car, but no such luck.

Kelly returned home and looked everywhere for her wallet, which held her license, cards, and other important items including her economic impact check. Feeling hopeless, she tried to retrace her steps from earlier that day. She remembered getting the mail and putting it on top of the trash. She could not remember picking up her wallet at the same time, but said she was possibly on the phone and distracted. Her heart sank. She said, “Please, God, it can’t be,” but she knew the wallet and mail got placed in the trash bag and taken to the convenience center.

With the center closed on Thursdays, Kelly called RCSW and desperately begged to be allowed into the compactor to find her bag. “I spoke to a nice lady who told me they were short-staffed, but that she would see if a driver and supervisor could meet me out there.”

RCSW Director Mac Nolen met Kelly at the center a short while later and allowed her to get into the hopper to look for her bag of trash. Kelly located the bag, but it was wedged so tightly and would not budge. While in the hopper, her phone fell into the drip pan that collects any liquid that falls from the waste. Fearing she had lost two important items at the center, she became overwhelmed with emotion. “I just cried and cried,” said Kelly. Fortunately, her phone was unharmed, but still, she was unable to get to the bag that potentially held her wallet.

Nolen advised her it might be best to follow the truck to the landfill the next day because the trash would be spread out a little more and might be easier to look through then. She agreed and went home.

“Around 7:00 pm, Mac called me and said he just had it on his heart to keep searching and trying for me,” said Kelly. “I came back right away and got back in to help him.” She said it was getting dark and she was beginning to feel faint from the smell and her surroundings, and was on the way to the car to get her phone (she left it in there this time) to use the flashlight feature on it. “About halfway back to the car, Mac yelled to her and said he had found it. “I checked the bag and sure enough, there was my wallet. It was untarnished and everything was still inside. Only a small amount of trash on the outside.”

Kelly said, “That man saved my life. I asked him what I could do to repay him because he went out of his way for me. He said all he wanted was a hug.” She gladly obliged. “I know we are supposed to be social distancing, but that man dug through the trash for me and with me. I must’ve hugged him like three times.”

Mac is affectionately known as Rutherford County Government’s Santa Clause because of his white beard and glasses. In a conversation between him and Ms. Kelly before they parted, she told him, “You made me a believer again.”—(in Santa Clause, that is) As for the entire situation, she gives God the glory.

“Without Him, my situation would have been hopeless,” she said. “I hope that Mr. Nolen and his employees get the recognition they deserve as well,” she continued.

“We were happy to help Ms. Kelly find her wallet,” said Nolen. “We are grateful for the positive outcome and one incredible story!”