As Andrea Reid was driving to Cape Coral, Florida, to spend Christmas with her family, she was no doubt looking forward to exchanging gifts with her loved ones.
Little did she know, the greatest gift she would give this year would be to a total stranger.
En route to her holiday destination, Reid was driving on the I-75 with her boyfriend when something caught her eye—something in the middle of the road, hidden in the fog.
“We’re like, what was that?” she recalled to NBC 2.
Upon further inspection, they realized what it was:
A garbage bag full of Christmas presents.
The couple decided to pull over and pick the gifts off the road.
“We debated stopping or not, and we were like, ‘you know what? We would want somebody to get our gifts so they don’t get run over,” Reid recalled.
But they weren’t thrown away—these were unopened, wrapped gifts, which had presumably fallen out of a vehicle, never reaching their recipient.
The tags were addressed to someone named Branson, from “Jack, Wendy and Pops.”
The wrapping was torn enough that Reid could peak in and see what the gifts were—and had a heartbreaking revelation:
“A game of Operation, a pop-up tent, and a sleeping bag,” Reid recalled to ABC Action News.
“I was like, ‘These are a little boy’s Christmas gifts!'”
Reid felt terrible for the people who lost the gifts—not just Branson, but the family members who bought and wrapped all those gifts.
“I just couldn’t imagine being that person getting to the house and all excited to give these gifts away, and they’re not even there,” she told NBC.
With only a few first names on the tags, it wouldn’t be easy to track down the owners. But there was another way:
She posted the story to her Facebook page, hoping it would eventually reach the owners.
Reid’s post admits that the plan was “a long shot,” and she planned to donate the gifts if no one had claimed them. Several families who were missing presents, or who had sons named Branson, reached out as the story spread, but none were the real deal.
Christmas came and went, but Reid held out hope.
“It’s a little late, but it’ll be a good New Year if we can find him,” she told ABC.
But then on December 28, she posted an update … her plan worked!
“BRANSON HAS BEEN FOUND!!” she wrote. “THANK YOU TO EVERYONE FOR YOUR HELP, YOU HAVE BEEN AMAZING!!”
At the time of her last update, Reid was still trying to figure out how to get the presents to Branson. But needless to say, that family received one unlikely Christmas miracle, all thanks to the kindness of strangers and the power of social media.