Steamboat Springs If you have seen a gray stuffed rabbit around the ski area, a child would appreciate it if you would bring it to the lost and found.
The Keith who lost a black iPod Mini on Sunday can claim it in the gondola building. Riley Lynch of Texas found it below a lift and turned it in.
"I'm sure they'll want it back," he said.
A steady stream of people who were looking for or turning in lost items were at the lost and found in the gondola building Monday morning. One woman was filling out paperwork to report a lost digital camera while another was reunited with her pink cowboy hat.
"If it can be lost, it probably has shown up here at one point in time," said Mary Circle, who is one of two part-time employees who staffs the lost and found between 8 and 10 a.m. and 2 and 5 p.m. Goggles, helmets, cellular phones, two-way radios and winter clothing are some of the items turned in. A laundry basket was filled with black gloves turned in just in the past week. There are buckets filled with lost keys.
The lost and found holds on to the valuable items until the ski season ends, but it does not have room for the volume of winter clothing that is turned in. Every couple of weeks, the resort donates unclaimed clothing to local charities and thrift shops.
"We saturate the market, and once we do that, we go to Denver," said Lyn Halliday, who has worked at Steamboat Ski Area for 14 years.
The ski area keeps some of the items to loan to skiers who might have forgotten some gear.
Unclaimed valuable items often are given to the person who found them after the ski season ends, Halliday said.
The lost and found may be one of the easiest ways to measure the honesty and friendliness of Steamboat Springs' visitors and locals.
"A lot of people say that's just the Steamboat way," Halliday said.
Last winter, a ski-school employee turned in a diamond-studded Rolex watch, she said. The woman who claimed it said it was worth $25,000.
"It's really one of the most rewarding things when you see a guest's face light up when they find their things.
Wallets with large amounts of cash are regularly turned in.
The staff conducts investigations in an attempt to track down the owners, Halliday said. It would be simple if everything that was lost had a name and phone number on it, but that usually is not the case. The staff tries to match up items according to reports that people file, or they might call the numbers in cell phones to try to track down owners.
Skis and snowboards even go unclaimed, sometimes because they were accidentally taken and then turned in to the lost and found.
"Usually, (the finders) don't fit into the bindings so they get to the top of the gondola and say, 'Hey, these aren't mine,'" Halliday said.
Circle at one point worked with lost luggage for American Airlines. She said there is one major difference between that and working at the lost and found. "We're not going to pay you if we don't find it."
-- To reach Matt Stensland, call 871-4210 or e-mail email@example.com