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Whoever found a crate in the Wal-Mart parking lot couldn't possibly have known what it meant to a Colorado family -- or that it contained $40,000 worth of stamps.

After finding that his collection of stamp covers -- envelopes and other material used to protect mail -- had rolled out of his SUV around 11 p.m. Thursday, a 70-year-old man called Lincoln Police to tell them what he’d lost.

“It was actually a miraculous, crazy story,” the man's daughter said Friday night.

As it turned out, two different crates had fallen out of the man's car, one in the Wal-Mart parking lot at 4700 N. 27th St. containing the stamp covers. A second crate containing financial records and other documents had fallen out as the man, in Lincoln for the Linpex stamp convention, drove away from his hotel.

The crate with the stamp covers was found by an unknown person in the parking lot and turned in to the Sam’s Club next door. An employee sifting through the crate found the Colorado man’s business card and called him. The collector then came and picked up his collection, ending the anxious saga.

The stamp collection is irreplaceable to the family, which is from Lincoln originally and still has relatives in the city. The collection has connections to their grandfather’s military service in Pearl Harbor in World War II, among other family mementos.

“Thank God that there’s honest people out there,” the daughter said.

Earlier Thursday, hotel worker Colette Wear saw the other crate fall from the man's SUV and onto the street as he left the parking lot at Country Inn & Suites at 27th Street and Folkways Boulevard.

Wear said she would’ve stopped to pick up that crate, which she said landed unscathed and upright, but she turned west in a rush to get people to a flight at the Lincoln Airport.

She said she was planning to pick the crate up on her way back if it was OK.

It wasn't.

“Apparently someone hit it, because there were pieces of the box everywhere,” she said. “Of course, there were papers everywhere.”

Wear helped the man’s wife pick up the papers from that crate -- bank statements and medical records.

The man's daughter summed up the experience: "All that happened was the tax paperwork was run over."

Reach Jonathan Edwards at 402-473-7395 or jedwards@journalstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/LJSedwards.

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