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Grafton family recognized after returning found gifts


With the help of social media, the Hoffman family of Grafton was able to return a lost bag of Christmas presents to its rightful owner.

And Friday, Dana Hoffman and her daughter, Emily Hoffman, were featured on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer’s “Person of the Week” segment at 6:30 p.m.

Each week, Sawyer showcases people throughout the United States who have in some way made a positive impact on others.

The mystery of the lost gifts began Dec. 25, when the Hoffman family came to the intersection of Nickel Plate Diagonal and Whitney roads in LaGrange Township where a bag was laying.

Curious as to what was inside the bag, Dave Hoffman pulled over the family car and retrieved it from the road.

Inside the bag, Dave Hoffman saw items of clothing and a gift card made out to “Zach” from his grandmother. Knowing someone would want the items returned, Dave Hoffman took the bag home in the hopes of finding its owner.

“It (was) nice stuff,” Dana Hoffman told a reporter Dec. 26. “It crushed me because someone (was) looking for these gifts.”

Hoping to find the owner, Emily Hoffman posted a message on her Facebook page that eventually found its way to The Chronicle-Telegram’s Chief Photographer Bruce Bishop.

The Hoffman family later learned Zach, 8, and his family was attending a holiday party at a relative’s house and when the family loaded its car to leave, one bag was accidentally left on top of the vehicle and eventually fell off.

After sharing their story with The Chronicle-Telegram, Dana Hoffman said a Cleveland-based news station, Channel 5, also aired the story.

Dana Hoffman gave the bag filled with Christmas presents to the reporter with Channel 5, who then handed them over to two of Zach’s cousins.

A reporter with ABC World News saw the segment after it aired on the station — ABC’s Cleveland affiliate.

“We’re glad that Zach got his gifts back,” Dana Hoffman said. “Seeing that the clothes were small and stylish, we knew some little boy would be pretty upset that his gifts were lost.”

And even though Zach did not meet the Hoffman family in person, he had a special message for them — “Thank you Hoffman family for finding my gifts” is what a sign read that Zach held when photographed.

Contact Melissa Linebrink at 329-7243 or

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