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An everlasting bond: 2 Tampa families connected after locket is returned to rightful owner

The locket intertwined in hundreds of Gasparilla beads was a family heirloom with a photo of four siblings.

TAMPA, Fla — It's a reunion weeks in the making and it all started on Nightside. 

Sonya Hanks found something unexpected weeks ago as she got ready for Gasparilla, buying a pack of beads from Sunshine Thrift Store in Tampa. 

"I'm untangling the beads and sorting them out. I found this locket that was intertwined in the beads," Hanks said. 

She lives in South Tampa and is a teacher at Coleman Middle School. She says she was getting them ready to give out to her students throughout the week when she made the discovery.

"I was puzzled at first and then as I started untangling it, I saw the chain and saw the necklace and it was of course snapped shut. When I opened it, it shocked me! It was shocking that there was an actual family in there," Hanks said. 

She saw a photo with a family of four and knew she needed to find them.

Credit: 10 Tampa Bay
Locket found in Gasparilla beads

It was like finding a needle in a haystack. But, after seeing our original story on Nightside, Sherry Dickey realized the kids in the picture were her own!

"I saw the picture on TV and I looked three times. I'm like, 'No! That's what my babies! That's my baby! Oh my gosh. How in the world," Dickey said.

Weeks later the two finally got to meet and the locket made its way back to Dickey. The picture inside is an exact replica of a larger one in her home. 

"I can't even put it into words. I don't know. This is just precious. I'm speechless. I can't even tell you how special it is," Dickey said.

The locket is a family heirloom she'll get to hold again and a sign her mom who's passed is still with her. She says it's likely her mom lost it while donating her own Gasparilla beads. Now the stranger that found it will be a lifelong friend.

"I'm just glad it's back home," Hanks said.

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