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Man Lost Urn with Wife’s Ashes and Feared It Was Gone Forever. Then It Mysteriously Turned Up in Unlikely Place

“We have to be so thankful that we got her back," daughter Bethanne Doud tells PEOPLE

<p>Destiny Carroll</p> Urn found at Goodwill

Destiny Carroll

Urn found at Goodwill

A discovery at a Goodwill location in Wisconsin resulted in an emotional family reunion, thanks to social media and a young woman who was determined to help.

The urn, with ashes still inside, was dropped off at the Goodwill in Sheboygan on Feb. 5, store manager Kevin Plastino tells PEOPLE.

Plastino, 48, says a sales associate made the discovery while “working the door that day,” and had noticed the box even had the name "Harriet Hedges Doud" etched into it.

Little did they know it belonged to a family member who misplaced the urn while returning from Mackinac Island in Michigan last summer.

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Bethanne Doud tells PEOPLE her father, Patrick Doud, brought the ashes to the island, where he and his wife Harriet met for the first time several decades ago. Her parents were married for 56 years until her mother died in November 2022 from acute myeloid leukemia.

In July, family members got together to spread Harriet's ashes on the island, Bethanne says. But when her 85-year-old father returned home at the end of the summer, he realized two of his suitcases were missing, including the luggage containing his late wife’s ashes.

“We did anything that we could think of to try to get it back,” Bethanne says. At one point, they believed the ashes were lost forever.

Enter Destiny Carroll, a 19-year-old retail associate, who has been with Goodwill for nearly eight months. Carroll tells PEOPLE that on Feb. 10, she shared a post about the urn on a local Facebook page, and quickly got a hit.

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Carroll says at least three people sent her messages about the urn within an hour.

Bethanne tells PEOPLE her cousin contacted her about the Facebook post after a former classmate alerted her. Still shocked, Bethanne “immediately” connected with Carroll.

She later shared the good news with members of her family. “No one could believe it,” Bethanne says.

Patrick later called Goodwill and connected with Plastino. By Feb. 23, he was in Sheboygan to pick up the urn.

Related: Dad Searching for 4-Year-Old's Bear That Plays Late Mom's Heartbeat and Was Accidentally Donated to Goodwill

Bethanne says her mother’s urn was “in perfect condition” and “exactly the way we left it.”

Plastino said the man was “excited” to see the ashes “and get them back.” Carroll was also happy to take part in the reunion.

“I was just relieved that she was able to get home safe and sound,” she tells PEOPLE, “because like I've said to everybody, if that was my mom or grandma or any of my family members, I would want somebody to do the same for me.”

A week later, Patrick took the urn to his daughter’s home in Cincinnati, where he stayed for more than a week. “We have to be so thankful that we got her back that we need to really cherish it,” Bethanne adds.

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Goodwill has a special place in Bethanne’s heart, making the discovery even more serendipitous. It was one of the few places her mother would go to, as someone who had difficulty walking.

Bethanne believes Carroll is like the family’s own angel, and thinks the 19-year-old may now have herself a new angel.

“My mom is absolutely so grateful,” Bethanne says. “I [told Carroll], ‘You gained an angel and we gained an angel. You are our angel, and you now have her as your angel looking over you.’”

But there is still one major mystery surrounding the urn. No one who spoke with PEOPLE for this story knows how the urn reached the Goodwill in Sheboygan.

“That's the only piece of the puzzle that … has not been told, and it probably will not [be] unless somebody came forward,” says Rachel North, director of communications at Goodwill Northern Michigan.

Related: Woman Finds $6K Designer Wedding Gown at Goodwill for $25, Plans to Wear It 'Whenever That Time Comes'

In the meantime, Bethanne says she and Carroll “have been in touch quite a bit” since February. She describes the young woman as “a very genuine kind person,” evidenced by her efforts to reunite the urn with the Douds, and hopes to meet her in person soon.

Plastino was thrilled to be part of a “rare story” with such a happy ending. “There's still good people out there, so that's a good thing,” he tells PEOPLE.

“We're just glad to be able to help out,” he adds. “And that's our true goal here was to be part of the answer and keep everything going the right direction."

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