Badges, buttons, and bullets: Thrift store board game filled with lost war memorabilia returned to B.C. owner

When Amanda first noticed the Scavenger Hunt board game box in a Victoria thrift store, she thought it sounded like fun thing to do with her family.

She shook it to make sure it was full, but never looked inside it.

"But we’ve got so many board games and the kids had other favourites so we never quite got to it," Amanda says from her home in Nanaimo.

It sat unused for years, until Amanda was in the midst of a move, looking to see what to keep and what to donate.

"I opened up this box," Amanda recalls. "And discovered it was not a game at all!"

Instead, it was filled with items that appeared to be from the Second World War: buttons, badges, and bullets.

"It was really strange," she remembers thinking. "But it was very cool."

There was also a passport from the 70's, a tag with the name LeBlanc, and a bracelet engraved with "To Don, Love Joan."

"I’m a very sentimental person," Amanda says. "I know if they were my belongings or a family member's belongings, I’d really want it back."

So instead of starting a scavenger hunt, Amanda began searching for clues online. She also posted pictures of the box’s contents on social media, which ended up being shared more than 3,300 times.

Sue in Cobble Hill first heard about the post through an old friend living in Nova Scotia.

"That was a bit of a shock," Sue says when she realized the items in the box belonged to her dad. "We’ve got a lot of [his] stuff stored in our house. We didn’t even know anything was missing."

Sue suspects her dad’s things were accidentally donated while they were helping him downsize and move to assisted living.

"You look at the box and you think, ‘Scavenger Hunt?!’" Sue starts laughing. "‘My dad’s not going to go on a scavenger hunt!’"

But now that the box is back, Sue couldn’t be more grateful that Amanda went to the effort to find her and return it.

"That makes her pretty special to do that," Sue says.

Amanda is thankful for the unexpected opportunity for her kids to learn about Canada’s role in the Second World War.

"They thought it was really fascinating," Amanda smiles.

And for Don, Sue hopes the contents of the box will allow her dad to go back in time.

"My mom had passed away quite suddenly," Sue says. "It was really difficult to make decisions about what to keep and what to let go."

But Don likely never got a chance to make a decision about the contents of this box, and would have certainly never let go of that engraved bracelet, a gift from his beloved Joan.

"I’m glad to have that back," Sue says holding back tears. "I think when he sees that bracelet that’s going to touch him."

Because, while many of these items from Don’s service will inspire memories of adventures and accomplishments during conflict, only the bracelet will remind him of exactly what they were fighting for.