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Community helps 'Tots' drive shine

by CAROLINE LOBSINGER
Staff Writer | November 30, 2022 1:00 AM

Joseph Cook was treasure hunting on a Florida beach not too long ago when he discovered a diamond ring.

Not just any diamond ring, mind you, but one worth about $40,000.

When Cook heard the ping on his metal detector, he told various newspapers and TV stations that he thought it was a coin of some kind at first. In a video he posted to his Instagram account, his excitement is almost palpable.

"No way, man. Whoa, look at that bad boy," Cook can be heard saying in the video. "Holy crap, yo that’s real. I swear to God, this is the biggest diamond I ever found on the beach."

As he talks, Cook is seen rushing over to the nearby waves to wash the item off. As the water washes the sand away, a large diamond ring is revealed.

Instead of taking the ring to a pawn shop, Cook contacted area jewelers to see if they knew of anyone missing a ring. He then posted the video to his social media accounts and asked folks to spread the work to see if anyone they knew was missing the treasured keepsake.

About two weeks later, Cook began getting a series of phone calls from a number he didn't recognize. After a few calls, he finally decided to answer it — and on the other end was the ring owner, who lived in Jacksonville, Fla.

In a video posted to Cook's Instagram account, the woman told him she standing near the beach and tossing a ball when she looked down to see the ring was gone. She and her husband attempted to find it; he'd even purchased a metal detector to aid the search but they didn't have any luck.

She told Cook that she figured that eventually the ring would turn up but she added that she had no hope that whoever found it would turn it in or try to find the owner.

A few weeks after finding the ring — Cook said the discovery was shortly after Hurricane Ian — he and the couple met so that he could return it to them.

“I really wasn’t disappointed that I had to return it,” Cook told SWNS, one of the media outlets. “Karma’s always good, every time I return an item, I find something better, so I’m happy I could give it back.”

Today's generous donation of $500 comes from Serve and Barbara Wilson in memory of their son, Todd Serve Wilson. Donations now total $1,700.

Like Cook, the Sandpoint Lions believe in the power of doing good. It is, after all, the reason why the club's members work so hard every year on their annual Toys for Tots Christmas drive.

Each year, Lions members, local businesses, and the community partner to raise funds as part of the annual Toys for Tots drive.

The club is accepting Toys for Tots applications until Dec. 17. Applications are available on our website and printed copies are available on the door of the Lions Club, 609 S. Ella

The goal for this year’s Toys for Tots campaign is $50,000 — the same as it has been in past years. The Lions make the most of the money by bargain shopping, and with the assistance of generous local businesses.

"We're seeing a need more than ever for Toys for Tots," Rader said. "We'll be shopping harder and smarter than ever to make sure everyone in the community has a very special Christmas."

If you know someone, or need help yourself, the Lions are taking applications for the Toys for Tots program. Applications are available at Bonner Community Food Bank and on the door of the Lions Den.

Donations for Toys for Tots can be dropped off at the front desk at the Bonner County Daily Bee, 310 Church St., from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. You can also drop off donations at Columbia Bank’s Sandpoint branch, 414 Church St., or at the Ponderay branch, 300 Bonner Mall Way; the Ponderay Starbucks, and the Ponderay Mountain West Bank.

Donations may be mailed to the Sandpoint Lions Club, Box 414, Sandpoint, ID 83864.

Donations made by check are preferred. Be sure to include a note with your check indicating that it is a Toys for Tots donation. If you wish to make an anonymous donation, please include a note.

If the donation is being made in someone’s name, be sure to also include a note.

Information: Sandpoint Lions Club, 208-263-4118

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