A treasure trove of items ranging from rare or valuable, through to just plain odd are handed in as lost property at Gold Coast Airport each year.
Reuniting items with their owners is a top priority, with about 500 items collected and catalogued every month. However, many remain unclaimed and are eventually given a new lease on life.
For eight years, Gold Coast Airport has partnered with Tweed Heads based charity You Have A Friend, with unclaimed items donated to help homeless people, single parents and children on the southern Gold Coast and northern New South Wales.
Gold Coast Airport Chief Operating Officer Marion Charlton said donating unclaimed items meant they ended up with people in need, rather than landfill.
“Many items are quickly reunited with their owners and all are kept for at least a month, but other commonly found items such as strollers and clothing are never claimed,” she said.
“By donating these to You Have A Friend they go directly to those in need and also help fund the charity’s vital programs in the area.
“We also donate unclaimed eye glasses to OPSM in Tweed Heads which catalogues the prescriptions for the Lions Club who distribute them to individuals who can’t afford new glasses.”
You Have A Friend founder, John Lee, said strollers were always welcome and went directly to help local parents and children, while other goods were sold through the charity’s Op-Shop in Tweed Heads.
“Proceeds from the Op Shop help fund our outreach programs which currently provide more than 300 meals for the homeless and marginalised each week. We also support 70 single mothers and children,” he said.
“We provide a breakfast service for local school children to make sure no child misses out on a good start to the day.
“You have A Friend does not receive government grants and is operated by 80 volunteers so the long-term support of Gold Coast Airport has been a great assistance to the local area.
“Nobody in our charity is paid so all donations go to supporting the homeless and those in need.”
In addition to the items donated to charity, other common lost property handed in at the airport includes car keys, wallets, toys and electronics.
Ms Charlton said operations staff worked hard to reunite toys with grateful families and have even sent photos of Teddy, enjoying his time at the airport, to children who had mistakenly gone on holidays without their special friend.
“It is always fantastic to see the reaction of children when they get their teddy back when returning from holidays, or the gratitude of a holidaymaker when they retrieve a camera full of precious memories from the Gold Coast,” she said.
“We have also had some rather unusual items come through including dentures and a car tyre, but the strangest of all had to be a prosthetic limb that thankfully was reclaimed in short order.”