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Reuniting people with mitts and more builds online B.C. community

‘Even little things make a difference’ says woman running online lost and found
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This tiny stuffy has yet to be reunited with its family, but is drawing a lot of attention and creating community on the Oak Bay Lost & Found Facebook page.(Courtesy Cyndra Townley)

Cyndra Townley is physically incapable of passing by a lonely mitten.

Finding things isn’t new to her. It’s actually a bit of a super power.

“I once found my mother-in-law’s diamond upside down in the shag rug behind her fridge.”

These days it’s primarily cashmere beanies, tiny shoes, dog licence tags and keys.

A lot of keys.

“This is stuff that if I lost it it would drive me crazy,” Townley said.

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She once picked up a tiny bootie in Beacon Hill Park and through the power of social media got it back to the owner – well the owner’s parents. What seemed an inconsequential piece of clothing returned was actually from Denmark, a gift from grandparents and of course part of a pair.

“I delivered this bootie in Rockland and this couple was over the moon. That gave me this perspective that even little things make a difference,” Townley said.

Finding the neighbourhood groups on social media cluttered with home rental listings and quasi-jokes about leaf blowers, Townley created a dedicated page on Facebook called Oak Bay Lost & Found.

There she and the community match up people with a ton of missing keys and mitts, plus the odd plushie.

She marks her latest stuffed animal the most rewarding – and popular – find to date.

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“He was sticking out of a two-foot-high wet, dirty leaf pile on Beach Drive and he’s only three inches high,” Townley said. “I had to go back and get him, it registered in my mind I had passed something. I pictured somebody had chucked this out of a stroller and there’s a mum going ‘oh my son or daughter lost their favourite …’”

It’s now had a wash and brush with before and after photos posted online, the bear has yet to be reunited with its family.

It also elicited the most heartfelt and copious responses. A back-and-forth of conversation and ideas also plays into the underlying reason Townley started the page.

A Canadian who grew up in war-torn Libya, she’s a fan of creating positive community.

“I know what a terrible community looks like. Anything I can do to make us feel like a community, I’ll do it,” she said. “It’s really rewarding. People can be quite reserved … it’s just a huge icebreaker. That and the block watch.”

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Shortly after moving to Oak Bay three years ago, she joined Block Watch as another way to build community and meet people. Now she’s a leader for 60 homes in her neighbourhood. It also morphed into work with the Oak Bay Emergency Preparedness Program.

“I need to make this place feel connected to me,” Townley said.

She figures about one-third of the items listed on the Facebook page wind up returned. She recently successfully retrieved her own lost light-up dog collar.

And Townley has a potential plan for the leftovers.

Already she’s envisioning the community connection that might be created with a clothesline of lonely gloves, boots and wayward caps, and an invitation online to let folks know to “come by for the things you lost.”



Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

I'm dedicated to serving the community of Oak Bay as a senior journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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