TRAVERSE CITY — Samuel Plamondon cleans out storage units several times a month.
As assistant manager for Habitat for Humanity's ReStore in Traverse City, he wades through more trash than treasure when a unit is auctioned off, abandoned or otherwise needing to be empty.
"You do this awhile and you can tell when something's good," said Plamondon, 20.
This particular day wasn't looking that good though.
The storage shed was "chest high with garbage bags, papers, junk," Plamondon said. "It looked like it had been ransacked."
He threw out bag after bag of garbage, rapidly sifting through the remnants, looking for anything useful.
"After about an hour I found a box. It had a boot print on it, where someone had trod upon it," Plamondon said.
The white cardboard box said "Family Bible" on it.
"I could immediately tell it was old and old things sell," Plamondon said. "So I grabbed it."
He put it on a shelf at the ReStore, 1129 Woodmere, a resale shop that helps fund Habitat for Humanity Grand Traverse Region, a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing organization.
The box sat on a shelf for a week or so, Plamondon said, while he thought about what do with it. He knew old books can bring in big bucks, but felt this one deserved to be with its rightful owner.
He enlisted his mom, Lisa Plamondon, to help track down that owner. They found a card from 1968 — the most recent thing in the Bible, which had entries dating back to the 1800s — from Irving Haywood's funeral. Irving Haywood turned out to be related to one of Lisa Plamondon's coworkers.
It was just a matter of following the dots then, and the family Bible ended up back in the family. Eli Haywood, 80, a Traverse City native and one of Irving's two sons, has been going page-by-page through the giant book for the last few weeks.
"I think I've seen that Bible before," he said, "at my Aunt Maudie's house, when I was just a young thing."
The pages are crammed with photos that Maudie Davis thankfully labeled, including Eli's stepmother as a baby, his cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents.
"It's a big Bible," Eli Haywood said. "There's a page with births and deaths recorded on it. I can't figure out how it ended up in the storage shed."
The Haywood family was so grateful to have the book back that they offered money to Samuel Plamondon for helping find it.
"I said no, just support the ReStore," Plamondon said. "That's our whole principle, to support the community."