by Lisa Tome
This time of year, Dale Vaughan leaves work with a little more jangle in his pocket.
Vaughan, a custodian who works at Bo Manor Middle and High schools, sticks loose change in his pocket when he finds it during locker clean-out.
But the expensive, unclaimed lost and found items at the school go to charity.
"We bag it up and it goes to Goodwill or a local church," said Vaughan.
Vaughan, Danielle Price, and other members of the custodial staff are busily bundling up goods that they find at the end of the school year.
But they'd like to warn everyone that locker clean out can be hazardous to your health.
"We found grapes. The only way we knew they were grapes is that the stem was still there," they said.
"I found a cell phone. A smart phone. But they came back for that," said Vaughan.
Keys, glasses, jewelry and other small valuables go to the school office.
Teeth retainers are often lost and highly sought. More than once, custodians have been called on to sift through trash to find a lost retainer.
"I found new sneakers. They were brand name. As a parent that makes me anxious," said Vaughan. "Children don't have a sense of value."
"That's because they don't buy it," said Price.
Vaughan said once he helped a boy look for a lost iPad. He encountered the youth later. The boy told him his parents would just buy a new one to replace the lost item.
Lots of name brand items are found. North Face, Under Armor, and Victoria's Secret, among them. "I found a Victoria's Secret bra in a toilet," said Vaughan. There is also plenty of Nike and school apparel, boots, scarves, jeans, high heels, a glittery top, and more.
They also found other items that are no longer good. Milk is sometimes left in a locker. "In a week's time you will find that. It smells like vomit in a locker," said Vaughan.
Price explained that everything is taken out of the lockers. The lockers are then scrubbed inside and out.
Gym lockers are also cleaned. Vaughan said working in the boys locker room means it's time to put on special equipment. "You glove up. That doesn't smell good in there. There's socks, underwear, and jock straps," said Vaughan.
Found text books go back to teachers. School supplies such as pencils, binders, and folders are saved and used at the school by students who don't have supplies.
Those at Bo Manor, aren't the only ones dealing with what is left behind.
As a parent, David Goff is offended.
As a custodian, he is baffled.
Goff, head custodian at Rising Sun Middle School, has tons of lost and found items on his hands.
Despite many efforts, many expensive items have yet to be claimed.
"We keep the lost and found out all year long. I am hoping we can have an (automated) call to remind parents before this goes on July 13. It's all going to Ray of Hope or somebody (charity)," said Goff. "We've already gathered up two loads this year. We got rid of some at Thanksgiving and more in February or April."
What Goff is dealing with is piles of clothing and shoes that have been left behind in school lockers, gym lockers, or in classrooms throughout the building. "It's Nike, Under Armor, Aeropostale, American Eagle, there's a 31 backpack, The shoes are Nike and Adidas," said Goff.
Sports team apparel is another item that piles up at the school. Goff said that Ravens, Steelers, Redskins, and Eagles gear is popular, but is often lost and not claimed.
Small items such as eyeglasses, jewelry, wallets, and purses are taken to the school office. "I have not found any electronics yet. And we usually find something," he said.
Some items are claimed. A parent turned out at the school a week after school ended in search of a pair of sneakers. They were found in a locker.
"Parents are surprised (at the amount of lost and found)," said Goff. But he also said they are surprised that the problem of unclaimed items is so widespread.
"I have two daughters - 12 and 14. If they lost something, I would say 'we are going to school to find it'," he said.
Goff found an eighth grade locker that is packed with expensive, and unclaimed items. There are numerous hooded sweatshirts and a lunchbag, containing rotted food and spoiled yogurt.
That's not the only thing Goff encounters at year end.
The worse room to clean at the end of the school year takes no consideration for Goff to name.
"The boys locker room is horrible. It's the smell of stink and sweat. They are young boys and they are disgusting," laughed Goff. "We are in there cleaning it and cleaning it and you can still smell it."
School supplies are salvaged and used the following school year.
Teachers usually distribute those items who don't bring supplies to class.
Found textbooks go back to the teachers. Library books from both the school library and the county branches are returned.