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About 20 people sorted through almost 20,000 pounds of garbage to recover it.

COURTESY PHOTO: REPUBLIC SERVICES - About 20 people sorted through almost 20,000 pounds of garbage to find a Wilsonville resident's lost wallet.

In late September, when Republic Services Operations Manager Steven Baker received a call that a Wilsonville resident had accidentally thrown away their wallet, he jumped into action.

"She had all of her IDs in there and a large amount of cash," he said.

Baker made his way to the unloading site to meet with the customer, who was visibly upset and apologized profusely for the situation.

"One thing we did have was a truck number, so we were waiting on site for it to arrive," Baker said.

When the driver arrived, they asked him to park in a designated area to isolate the contents of the truck away from the other garbage at the facility.

Using a material excavator and the manpower of about 20 people, they began sorting through almost 20,000 pounds of garbage.

About 20 minutes later, they found the wallet.

The person was overjoyed and extremely grateful, and left to get cakes from Costco for everyone who helped.

"The outcomes are not normally like this," Baker said, "so when they do come across, and we're able to help someone out, that's what we want to do. We're happy to do it."

What to do if it happens to you

If someone accidentally throws something away, the first thing they should do is call customer service, Baker said. From there, getting as much information about the truck, its route and where the item was picked up is crucial to getting the items back.

"We were able to pinpoint where in the truck (the wallet) was because of where in the route it was picked up," Baker said.

Beyond that, timing is crucial.

"The material here moves very quickly," Baker said.

Trucks come in about twice a day, Baker said, and once the garbage is dropped off it's only a matter of hours until it gets shipped to the next destination.

"This is one of the better outcomes," Baker said. "It doesn't normally happen this way."


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