When Katie Hoeppner, a mom in Iowa, found a stuffed animal that had clearly been lost by a kiddo at a rest stop along I-80, she knew she had to do something about it. She took to Facebook on September 30 to share her story and accompanying photos, writing, "I know this is a long shot, but please share this -- I stopped at a rest stop on Iowa Interstate 80 Eastbound and found this little guy in the bathroom wondering where his family went. As a mom, I know exactly what it's like to have a child who's frantic when they lose their Stuffy. I decided to rescue him and bring him home until we can find his owner."
Hoeppner went on to explain that she named the stuffed animal George and let her kids take him all over, documenting with photos along the way. "[My daughter] took him to school to a cheer competition," Hoeppner told local news outlet KWWL. "He's been to dinner with us. And he went to church with us, and he's at work with me today." Still, she hoped her social network could help her connect with George's family.
Thankfully, the power of social media kicked in, and late Wednesday night, a teacher messaged Hoeppner to say that George belonged to one of her students. The Iowa mom soon connected with the student's family from Huxley, Iowa. "George" belonged to their 4-year-old, they explained. Hoeppner had already heard from several people whose stories didn't seem legit, but when the Huxley family pointed out the stitches the stuffed animal had on its neck (which she hadn't actually noticed 'til then), she knew she was in contact with the rightful owners.
She updated her Facebook post on Wednesday, October 4: "GUYS!! WE FOUND THE OWNER!!!!! They were able to identify a very particular marking on 'George' to prove that it is theirs!! His actual name is Pup Pup, and he belongs to a little boy here in Iowa. I am so very thankful to everyone for sharing this as much as you have!"
So heartwarming that both of these families found their happy ending -- and "George"/"Pup Pup" will soon be back in his loving owner's arms.