It’s the sort of inconvenience we’ve all grown used to in today’s world of flying: the extremely prohibitive rules of what is and is not allowed on flights in the United States. But when one Florida woman and her boyfriend saw a fellow passenger being forced to part with a mysterious package, they knew they couldn’t ignore it.
Something about the man’s desperation to not be forced to surrender his apparently problematic parcel struck a chord with the pair. He had been told to drop it into the trash — and by later retrieving it, the inquisitive pair that had witnessed the whole ordeal were about to unravel something incredible.
1. Bags Packed
When Tampa, Florida resident Ivelise Hernandez arrived at St. Petersburg-Clearwater Airport one unassuming day, she wasn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary. The young woman was on her way to a flight heading to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her boyfriend Rico Bankston, who had driven her to the airport, was accompanying her up to the security line.
It was a routine trip to the airport, and there was nothing that would suggest otherwise. Everything appeared calm. Then they noticed what was happening a few paces just ahead of them in the security line — a man was being forced to throw away a package. Little did Ivelise know at the time just how the episode would impact her life in an unforgettable way.
2. Routine Inconvenience
Standing in line to go through airport security is by far everyone’s least favorite part of traveling, but Rico waited patiently by his girlfriend Ivelise’s side. What should have otherwise been a standard bag inspection was taking far longer than usual.
Whatever the issue the security guards had found with the man trying to take a wrapped package through the metal detector, it was holding up the line. They had pulled the man in question aside. And by simply listening to the argument taking place at the metal detectors, Ivelise and Rico were about to discover something absolutely unbelievable.
3. Waiting In Vain
As Rico waited for his girlfriend Ivelise to be able to continue on her way to boarding her flight, a man ahead of them was having a problem with his carry-on bag. It was clear that one of the items inside was considered restricted.
The security guards refused to let him pass through with a certain package. It was unclear what its contents were. Whatever it was, the man was arguing with them, trying desperately not to be parted from it. What could have made him so agitated?
4. Red Flag
Traveling in the US and the world itself was forever changed by the events of September 11. The Transportation Security Authority in the United States, otherwise known as the TSA, have extremely strict guidelines for what is and is not allowed in hand luggage on flights.
Both international and American passengers are routinely surprised or dismayed to hear what they can’t take on board. And what this man had in the package concealed in his carry-on bag raised a huge red flag for the TSA agents on duty that day.
5. Strict Requirements
Post-9/11 fliers have become accustomed to seeing disgruntled fellow travelers roll their eyes at seemingly ridiculous requests. People on their way to flights are often made to throw out the most seemingly random items before they are allowed through security.
Even inconspicuous items like toothpaste can be prohibited due to the rules of permissible liquid ounces. As annoying as it is, some items can be purchased again once past security. But what this man was trying to carry through security inside that package was far from replaceable.
6. Escalating Argument
As Ivelise and Rico watched, the man in line in front of them grew more and more distressed. He tried to bargain with the TSA agents, asking if what he had could possibly be sent instead to the airport’s lost and found.
But it was all in vain. The TSA refused his request, coldly telling him to deposit the package into the nearest trash bin. Ivelise and Rico could see that the man was very distraught, almost in tears. Ivelise felt something had to be done.
7. Tossed Away
No matter how much the man in the security line pleaded with them, the TSA agents would not budge. His eyes welling up, he took the package that they had refused to let him carry, and glumly cast it into the trash.
With great sadness, he continued onward to board his flight. Meanwhile, it was finally about to be Ivelise’s turn to say goodbye to her boyfriend and make her own way through the security checkpoint. She turned to Rico and requested something highly unusual of him.
8. A Strange Mission
Ivelise and Rico were upset by the scene that had happened right in front of them at the airport. As she prepared to go through the security check herself, Ivelise gave Rico a hug and kiss goodbye, leaving him with an unusual mission.
She told him to go rifle around through the trash bin by the security line and try to figure out what had been in the package. And with that, she went and boarded her flight to Pennsylvania. What would Rico find in there?
9. Free To Go
Because Rico wasn’t passing through security himself, he had an advantage in this situation. If the package in question had been tossed in the trash and not hauled off for extra screening, that meant it wasn’t big enough of a risk that they wouldn’t allow Rico to take it out.
He could presumably take home whatever he found in the trash bin without being bothered by TSA. Rico retrieved the mysterious parcel that man had left behind from the trash bin. He then left the airport, and drove home with it to Tampa. He knew that this was no ordinary package.
10. Uneasy On-Board
Meanwhile, all the way to Pittsburgh, Ivelise felt shaken by the way the man in the security line had been treated. She was burning with curiosity to discover what had been such suspicious contraband as to make him throw it away with no exceptions.
As soon as she had safely landed, Ivelise turned her phone back on and called Rico, wondering what he’d found inside the package. And when he told her what he’d discovered when he unwrapped it, she knew immediately knew what had to be done.
11. The Discovery
When Rico unwrapped the package, he realized that he was looking at something that seemed relatively underwhelming. It wasn’t anything that appeared so sketchy as to spark a huge debate. At first glance, it would have seemed just an ordinary trinket to the casual observer.
Inside the parcel was a snow globe! But when Rico looked more closely at the snow globe, examining it for any signs that would make it suspicious he could see what had made its owner tear up at the airport. And when he flipped it over, he instantly understood just how valuable it really was.
12. A Closer Look
This was no ordinary snow globe that had been picked up at a souvenir shop — it had been specially commissioned. Inside the snow globe were two photographs, one of a little girl, and one of an elderly couple. The snow globe also played the song “Greensleeves” if wound.
Underneath the snow globe was an engraving. The people who had purchased it had apparently personalized it with a message, reading: “We love you Katie. Nana and Papa 1/25/16”. After that, Rico and Ivelise were in agreement about what they had to do with the package.
13. The Goal
Eventually, Ivelise came back home to Florida from her trip to Pittsburgh. She and Rico knew that there was no way they were prepared to discard this snow globe like the TSA agent had done before them at the airport. They had to track down the owner.
This special package had clearly meant a lot to the man who had been forced to throw it away, and from the clues on the snowglobe, it was important for other family members too. Ivelise and Rico now had a mystery ahead of them to solve. But it seemed nearly impossible.
14. Needle In A Haystack
Even if Ivelise and Rico wanted to do a good deed, the odds were against them. The task of finding the owners of the snow globe didn’t appear to be simple. How could they return something like this to someone with almost no clues whatsoever?
There was no address, no name other than the pet names of a pair of grandparents engraved on the abandoned snow globe. The only lead they had was the fact that the man in question had been flying through St. Pete-Clearwater Airport on that February day. They’re have to think of a creative approach to solving the case.
15. First Steps
As Ivelise’s first step in the search, she took to social media. She wrote a post on her Facebook wall with as many details as possible, including pictures of the snow globe and its engraving, in the hopes that her friends would help her pay it forward.
Unfortunately, it was more or less the only thing the couple could do, given what they knew about the package. Still, they were determined. As Ivelise said, she wanted to turn that man’s initial tears into tears of joy. But there was a problem.
16. Limited Audience
Even as she wrote her post and uploaded pictures of the snow globe, Ivelise was aware that she didn’t have a very large Facebook network. It wasn’t that she didn’t have friends; just her list of friends was basically average. As a result, she and Rico were just cautiously optimistic.
The couple hoped that the Facebook post might get shared a few times. Thinking realistically, Ivelise figured it would get capped at 200 shares maximum. But they were both dead wrong. They were totally unprepared for what was about to happen next.
17. Viral Campaign
It turned out that he pair had vastly underestimated the magic of the Internet. Ivelise’s well-intentioned Facebook post went amazingly viral, at a dizzying pace. The post was being rocketed through cyberspace, and had now taken on a life of its own.
Within just seven days, the pictures of the people inside the snow globe, the engraved message, and the accompanying post Ivelise had written had caught fire. It had been reposted more than 48,000 times! Still, it was a huge country. Would that help the abandoned item arrive to the right hands?
18. A Great Step Forward
The number of reposts kept climbing higher and higher, but it was unclear how much it helped further their search. Finally, after a sea of shares, someone came forward with a message. However, the person who came forward wasn’t a relative or friend of the man who’d thrown out the snow globe.
In fact, they were connected only remotely at best; they didn’t even know the man who had been forced to throw out the package with the snow globe. The message came from an employee from a gift shop called Things Remembered. And what she said would make Ivelise’s heart skip a beat.
19. Product Identified
The message that Ivelise received through Facebook ended up taking the search forward drastically, but from an unexpected angle. The employee from Things Remembered had nothing to do with that particular snow globe, but she had a photographic memory, and remembered that model.
The worker took up the baton that Ivelise had passed her. She sent the image back to company headquarters in Ohio to see if they could pinpoint that specific order. What was about to happen next was nothing short of extraordinary.
20. Nailed It
After consulting with headquarters, the worker from Things Remembered located a name: Linda Modry. Linda had ordered the snow globe especially for her five-year-old granddaughter, Katie. But of course, because of what had happened at the airport, Katie had never received the gift.
Katie’s dad, Michael, was going to deliver the heartfelt gift, and it turned out that he was the man that Ivelise and Rico had seen in front of them in the security line. When Katie had heard the unfortunate news from her father and grandparents, she had been very disappointed. But all that was about to turn around.
21. Honing In
Everything was happening so fast. Ivelise and Rico were terribly excited. With the help of the employee from Things Remembered, now they had a name and a specific direction. All the pieces were in place, and now they could close the cycle of kindness they had begun.
From just a helpful Facebook post stemming from nothing but good intentions, Ivelise had gone from knowing close to nothing about this snow globe’s owner to finding where it had been purchased from, and the name of the owner. But that wasn’t the last fantastic twist.
22. Right Around The Corner
The Facebook campaign had been beyond successful. Ivelise and Rico wouldn’t have to wait too long to pass on that special package. Linda Modry lived in their area! The shopkeeper from Things Remembered, with permission from headquarters, ended up giving Ivelise the customer’s number.
By this time, local news had caught wind of the story, and all were excited to capture the incredible moment of reunion. And Ivelise was about to learn so much more about how significant of an act of righteous kindness she had done.
23. Meeting The Owner
With news crews at hand, even in the middle of a tropical Florida rain storm, Linda Modry came to Ivelise Hernandez’s front door in Tampa. The excitement was practically palpable. Nothing could feel quite as good as fulfilling a good deed.
They were two women, connected by a simple object. The package that had been tossed away at the airport had meant a lot to its owner, and had come to mean a lot to its rescuer. Unsure of what to expect, Linda knocked on the door.
24. Joyful Embrace
Brimming with joy, Ivelise opened the door for her guest. Almost instantly, smiling ear to ear, the two fell into each other’s arms. As Linda offered Ivelise a lovely bouquet of flowers, the woman teared up, completely feeling the beauty of the moment.
Ivelise was filled with the purest kind of joy: being glad to fulfill an act of kindness and to finally bring the mystery of the discarded package to a close. And as she was about to learn, that snow globe meant so much more than she could have expected.
25. Birthday Gift
True, getting a snow globe engraved would be a hard process to replicate. But the timing of it for this grandmother had been incredibly special. Her granddaughter Katie’s birthday was coming up, and she wanted this present to be ready in time to give it to her.
If Ivelise had not spoken up, and if Rico had not sifted through the airport trash bin, there would have been a lingering sense of disappointment at the little girl’s birthday. And Ivelise was about to learn the truth behind the date on the snow globe.
26. Many Guests
That package had been bought with the purest, most loving intentions, and now it was finally back in the hands of its owner. Choking back emotions herself as she thanked Ivelise, Linda knew that her gratitude alone wasn’t enough to truly illustrate to the woman just how important her act of kindness had been.
She wanted Ivelise to hear it from someone else and to feel just how much of a wonderful impact she had made through her persistence and her curiosity. So Linda took out her cell phone. Ivelise waited breathlessly by her side as she dialed.
27. Connecting The Family
The sentiment behind the once-abandoned package reached further than Linda, who had purchased it. To make sure Ivelise could hear her family’s gratitude, Linda called her son, Michael, the one that Ivelise and Rico had seen getting flustered in the security line at the airport.
As it turned out, when Ivelise and Rico had seen him, Michael had just finished visiting his parents in Florida, and was on his way back home to Ohio. Linda and her husband had given him that special package to take to Ohio. And, as they explained to Ivelise, her timing couldn’t have been better.
28. Welcome To The Family
The date inscribed underneath the snow globe, January 25th, was not a birth date, but of an equally special occasion. It was the date of Katie’s adoption and the beginning of her journey as a member of the family. For Linda Modry and her husband, this was not just a reminder of their love from grandparents to granddaughter.
The precious gift was a gesture of them affirming their adopted grandchild’s place in her new forever family, and reminding her that each and every one of them loved having her in their lives. Linda held her phone out to the trembling Ivelise. What would the family say?
29. Smiles All Around
As Ivelise listened, beaming with happiness, she heard that it wasn’t just Michael on the other line. Little Katie herself had joined in on the conversation, and her grandmother Linda told the five-year-old that she had successfully retrieved the special package containing her new snow globe!
Nothing could have better showed Ivelise how much her act of selflessness and determination had meant. They could hear Katie jumping up and down with joy on the other end of the line. It was a lot for Ivelise to process. What she would say about the whole episode was truly incredible.
30. Pure Instinct
For Ivelise, her act was the natural, logical thing to do. She said her mother had always raised her to be good to others, and she noted that if she had been in the same circumstances, she hoped someone would have the fortitude to do the same.
Now that she had her precious parcel back in her possession, Linda vowed to pack it more carefully and put it in her checked luggage before taking it to Ohio to her excited granddaughter. Linda summarized the experience by describing Ivelise: “People are basically really good, and she’s just exceptional.”
31. Public Reaffirmation
After Ivelise posted the story on Facebook and on the page Love What Matters, she got incredible feedback and admiration for paying it forward and making a small gesture for but huge impact on one family. Ivelise made a little girl happy and it wouldn’t go unnoticed by anyone who read the story.
Not only did her post in the quest to find the owner of the snow globe go viral, the comments on the story of the reunion received heartfelt words of praise and encouragement. It just proves that a little goes a long way to brighten up people’s lives. All it takes is one simple act of kindness, and it seems like paying it forward only did good for Ivelise.
32. A Blessing
Just two years later, Ivelise is now blessed with carrying her very own baby, someone who cannot be more deserving of such a gift. We have no doubt she’ll be a great mother who’ll teach her child great values after what she did for Katie Modry.
What’s more, turns out Ivelise will also be a fun and cool mother judging by the funny viral posts she shares on her Facebook, like the make a child disappear challenge. It’s also safe to say that she won’t be letting her child or anyone for that matter try transport a snow globe through the airport, although there are some regulations about that.
33. Airport Regulations for Snow Globes
Katie Modry’s snow globe wasn’t allowed through airport security control because it was larger than a tennis ball. Yep, that’s right! In order for a snow globe to be allowed in anyone’s hand luggage, one needs to ensure that it isn’t larger than a tennis ball. Weird, right?!
According to the Transportation Security Administration’s Lisa Farbstein, snow globes that are now smaller than a tennis ball are allowed on board a plane. Anything bigger than that is a no-go. That’s very strange, but so are these are innocent items that were taken away at the airport. You won’t believe which items are on the list!
34. Other Confiscated Items
Airport security is very strict about liquids, so even food like canned goods need to be under 100 ml. This is why snow globes are banned because they contain liquid and gas. But that’s not it, there are even more bizarre items that get banned like shoe insoles, fishing rods, sporting equipment, and even tents and tent pegs.
Helium balloons are also not allowed, as well as hair dye and art supplies because of the chemicals they contain. But did you know that sausages and cheese can get stopped at airport security because they are difficult to distinguish from bombs in the x-ray machines. The good news is that developing technology might prevent the need to remove liquids from bags because of new CT machines that can check the liquids without taking them out.