Kim Lane was working behind the counter at a truck stop in Farina, Illinois, when a customer brought her a lost doll that had been left at one of the station’s gas pumps.
One look at the toy—a plush squeeze doll wearing camo and emblazoned with the photo of a soldier—was all it took for Kim to realize the forgotten doll was special.
“I just knew that it had something to do with military personnel,” Kim told local news channel KSDK. “I just wanted to find the person that lost it.”
When she squeezed the doll, her mission became even more inspired. “Hey buddy, it’s Dada. I miss you and I love you,” it said.
Many military parents create similar comforting keepsakes before deploying abroad. The personalized dolls often include an audio box with a recording of the soldier’s voice.
Re-invigorated in her search, Kim took to social media, posting a status about the doll and asking friends for information.
The Internet responded accordingly.
“It was nonstop,” Kim says. “Every time I looked at my phone there were more shares, more likes more comments.”
And finally, after more than 1,000 shares, a breakthrough. The grandmother of the little boy who owned the doll—a two-year-old named Grayson whose soldier father was deployed—sent Kim a message.
The doll went home—along with a few treats from the truck stop’s shelves.
“With everything going on in the world right now it feels great that so many people are standing behind my husband and military people in general because they don’t really personally know him,” Grayson’s mom, Ashley, told KSDK. “It’s amazing to see social media and the world come together for something seemingly so small.”