Editor’s note: By the request of the family, the photo on the doll will not be shown, and its final destination will not be disclosed.
FARINA, Ill. - Just inside the Farina city limits in South Central Illinois sits a truck stop with a cashier who has a heart of gold.
"A customer came in carrying a doll and told me he'd found it at the pumps and told me I ought to put it behind the counter in case someone came looking for it," said Kim Lane, who works at the Jack Flash truck stop in Farina.
With one look, Kim knew it was no ordinary doll.
"It's something very special," she said. "It's a valuable keepsake."
A doll stitched in camo with a recorded message.
"Hey buddy, it's dada. I miss you and I love you," the doll says.
"I just knew that it had something to do with military personnel," Kim said. "I just wanted to find the person that lost it."
That's when the cashier's quest began.
"I couldn't imagine any other way of finding it, so I decided to put it on Facebook," she said.
Within minutes of posting her plea, social media did its thing.
"It was nonstop," she said. "Every time I looked at my phone there were more shares, more likes more comments"
A thousand likes and nearly 3,000 shares later, success.
"I looked back through the messages and actually spoke to the grandmother of the little boy," Kim said.
The little boy is a 2-year-old named Grayson whose dad is a deployed soldier whose identity we promised to keep secret.
"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," said Grayson's mom, Ashley. "So it's amazing to see social media and the world come together for something seemingly so small."
"It's a United States soldier and his family," Kim said. "We appreciate everything and want to do what we can to help."
So Kim is grabbed a little of this and a little of that from the truck stop's shelves and put them in a box as gifts to accompany the lost doll to its destination.
A cashier whose big heart is bursting with pride.
"I feel honored to be a part of it."
Dolls with recorded messages are popular with military families. The one found in Farina is from a company called called "Huggs to Go. "
You can learn more on their website, www.HuggeeMissYou.com.