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Social media helps return deceased woman’s ashes originally sold at thrift store

PARK HILLS, Mo. – For 22-year-old Jasmin Ellis, losing her mother Tammy Banaszek to cancer five years ago was hard enough; losing her ashes was something she was never prepared for.

“That was the most terrifying thing, seeing her in that pain,” Ellis said. “She doesn’t deserve to be sold for $2.”

Unfortunately, her late mother was sold at a Goodwill store located in Farmington.

“That’s when I saw the globe and it played ‘Amazing Grace’ and I thought that would be great to go on a mantle for my son,” said Anita Minks, who bought the item. “It had a lady’s picture in it, but I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll take out the picture and put his in it and put it next to his urn.’”

But Minks added that the minute she started driving home Tuesday afternoon, she realized that the item she bought was much more personal to someone else.

“The top popped off and so I took the little thing out and I shook it and I took the tape off and I knew it was ashes because my son had been cremated,” Minks said.

Minks was confused and unsure what to do, so she called her daughter, Jeni Kinney.

Kinney immediately took to Facebook, determined to track down the rightful owner.

“I knew if it was my brother, I would want someone to try and find us,” said Kinney. “I wouldn’t want them thrown in the trash.”

Less than 24 hours later, Ellis, who lives in St. Genevieve, showed up at the mother and daughter’s home in Park Hills.

“I’m really, really glad that there were nice people out there who helped find me to get her back,” said Ellis.

Not only do the two families share the common thread of personal loss, but also restored faith in humanity.

“We have been through a lot and if we can make someone’s life a little easier we will,” Kinney said.

“I’m just glad she gets to come home,” Ellis said.

Ellis believes that the item, which actually belonged to her late mother, was stolen out of a close family friend’s public storage before making it made its way into a Goodwill facility.

FOX 2 reached out to local representatives for Goodwill, who released the following statement:

“Goodwill has a history of being able to locate and return items like this to families of the deceased. We will be looking at this situation specifically to see in what ways we may need to modify our training. We also want to be as helpful as possible to the family as we work to understand how their mother’s remains made it to our facility.”