After work last Monday, Dahlonega resident Judy Winchell realized: she was no longer wearing her signature wedding ring set.
For many people, lost jewelry might stay that way. But through a community Facebook group and multiple people doing the right thing, she got her rings back.
Judy has been with her husband, Brian Winchell, for 11-12 years, and they wed four years ago.
However, they actually went to the same high school in Rhode Island and graduated within a year of each other between 1986-1987.
Though time and circumstances initially took them away from each other, they met again two decades later, growing closer together by drawing closer to God, their focal point of faith.
So, with the meaning imbued in the rings, losing them was losing something huge to her.
The couple was returning a tool at the Dawsonville Home Depot last Sunday. And, before using cleanser on her hands, Judy took off her rings and placed them in her lap.
She got up from the car to walk in the store, the rings fell onto the pavement, and there they stayed for about a day.
Then, one member of the “Focus on Dawson” Facebook group, Emily Stoker, found the rings.
She posted a picture holding the rings, asking the owner to contact her directly.
Judy didn’t see that initial post, though. So when the set was missing, she was understandably upset. While she went on a drive to calm her nerves, Brian said he began praying that the rings would be found.
“God is an awesome God, and nothing is too big for him,” Brian said.
The next day at his job, Brian printed out past photos taken of Judy wearing the ring to help with searching for it. He and Judy started backtracking their steps from the weekend, going to the park in Dawsonville and then to the Dawson Racetrac, where they were regulars.
Judy was “on a mission” as she quickly walked into the gas station store, Brian said.
For some reason, Judy said she was drawn to talk to employee Rebecca Delk. who she’d previously gotten to know via small talk.
She asked about a lost-and-found there. After being told about the lost rings, Delk said “hold on” and quietly walked away from Judy.
What Brian and Judy didn’t know right away was that Delk had woken up with the ring set on her mind. Delk usually doesn’t frequent the “Focus on Dawson” page, but she had the night before, seeing Emily Stoker’s post about the rings.
At the time, Delk said she thought those were a beautiful set of wedding rings and hated that someone lost them.
Delk asked them if they’d been at Home Depot during the past weekend, and a mystified Brian replied, “Yeah, why would you ask that?”
Delk continued looking for Stoker’s original post, and after an unsuccessful search, published her own post saying that a regular customer, Judy, came in looking for her wedding ring set.
Then after the Winchells had stepped out of the store, Delk was finally able to find the initial post about the rings and showed them just as they were about to get back into their car.
“Judy said, ‘Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, those are my rings. Those are my rings,’” Brian recalled.
His wife then messaged Stoker, who was excited to hear that those were Judy’s rings and asked her to prove it.
Apparently, someone had previously reached out to Stoker and tried to claim the rings were theirs, supplying Photoshopped images with the rings.
Judy quickly searched for any and every picture of her wearing the rings, and after successfully convincing Stoker, she arranged a time to meet and retrieve the jewelry.
Just before 6 p.m. on Feb. 9, Stoker returned the rings to Judy.
“It was all God,” Judy said, sharing similar sentiments to her ecstatic post after retrieving the rings.
She shared that God “moves in ways not known to us” and “always honors your first response,” referencing her choice to pray about the rings last Monday night instead of staying upset.
Delk was happy for the couple, adding that the wedding band set may have just been two rings, but that the jewelry meant so much to Judy.
As they drove back home, Brian said he looked at Judy and quipped, “You know, God really loves you.”
The couple thanked Emily Stoker for her kindness and good heart. They dually thanked Delk, calling her “the key” and saying that their good deeds “will not go unnoticed.”
“With God, all things are possible, and God makes the impossible possible,” Brian added, reflecting on the whole experience.