Two weeks ago, Priscilla Bailey was sifting through the used goods at Savers in Plymouth when she stumbled upon a purplish-blue glass ornament shaped like a heart.
Intrigued by the creative bauble with the metal top, Bailey decided to purchase the item and gift it to her daughter, Kat Bartlett, who runs a side business making glass art.
But shortly after Bailey returned home with her find, Bartlett noticed that perhaps her mother’s purchase was more than she bargained for: Inside, Bartlett said, were what appeared to be ashes that could belong to a person’s loved one, she claims.
“My mom tried to give it to me and said, ‘Look what I found, I got it at Savers,’ ” Bartlett said. “I said to her, ‘It looks like it’s ashes, Mom.’ And she had put a flashlight up to it — and it’s ashes.”
On Thursday, Bartlett did what many before her have done in the digital age, when mysteries surface and someone needs the help of social media sleuths to solve them. She signed onto Facebook, posted a picture of the artistic object, and asked for help finding its rightful owner.
“I am in desperate need of this post to go viral!” Bartlett wrote. “It breaks my heart that this was tossed away and just sitting on a shelf at Savers for $2. Please share this post and [Instant Message] me if you have any leads at all.”
Hundreds of people shared Bartlett’s plea within hours of it appearing online.
Before leveraging her followers to help get the $2 item — which is sealed shut — back to its original owner, Bartlett reached out to the store to let them know what her mother had found.
An employee there said Bartlett could bring in the item and they could “dispose of it properly,” Bartlett said. But that wasn’t good enough for her.
“I just want it returned to whoever it belongs to — a family member, I don’t really know,” she said in a telephone interview. “Hopefully somebody knows or sees it [online].”
Savers, which is headquartered in Bellevue, Wash., and has stores all over the country, including New England, accepts a range of donations that the company then resells to its customers.
According to its website, the stores take clothing accessories, shoes, electrical devices, and “knick knacks” like jewelry, crafts, mugs, candles, and ornaments similar to the one Bartlett’s mother had purchased.
An employee who answered the phone Thursday at the Plymouth location directed the Globe to the company’s corporate offices. Several calls to a company spokesperson were not immediately returned.
Bartlett said she doesn’t know how the glass ornament could have ended up in the store, but if she had to guess, it’s possible that someone had cleaned out an estate or emptied a relative’s house and didn’t realize what they were giving up.
To her, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that it gets to where it belongs.
“It was probably a mistake,” she said. “I just know I don’t want one of my family members, whether it’s an animal or not, in Savers for $2.”Steve Annear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.