Two young New Jersey boys whose father is serving in Afghanistan were always able to take comfort in their "Daddy dolls" -- soft, customized dolls that helped them cope with the separation -- but when one of them went missing, a good Samaritan and strangers on social media quickly came to the rescue.
Noah and Judah Gossett, of Manalapan, N.J. each have a doll featuring their father's face and a military uniform. The dolls have helped them to continue feeling close to their father, Timothy, who's serving in Afghanistan, his fifth tour overseas.
The boys' mother, Raynalin Gossett, said Judah, a toddler, was particularly attached to his Daddy doll.
"He sleeps with it, always wants it, carries it where we go," she said.
But the doll went missing during a recent shopping trip at a Target store, setting off panic. Raynalin Gossett said Judah left his doll in the cart, and by the time Raynalin realized it was gone, it was too late.
"I was on the phone with my girlfriend, I was having a heart attack," she said. "I was like, 'Oh, my God. Oh, my God.'"
But a good Samaritan, Michelle McHugh, found the doll and not only brought it to customer service, but then went on social media. She posted a photo of the doll on Facebook and asked people to share it so that the owner could be found. The photo was shared more than 25,000 times in less than a day.
Raynalin Gossett ended up seeing the picture. Stunned, she commented on the post: "Thank you, Michelle, for finding my son's doll! We frantically went back to get him when we realized."
"The waterfall of care I have seen in the past 24 hours of strangers through social media is just overwhelming. What a great country."
McHugh replied: "No thanks necessary. I love a happy story and this made my day! It looked like an extremely loved doll."
Raynalin Gossett told NBC 4 New York: "My faith in humanity is completely restored. The right thing, and so many people cared enough to share it and want to get it back to us."
While the boys love their dolls, the toys can't beat their real dad, who's returning home in the fall.
"I miss him so much," said Noah. "But he's going to be back and we're going to play beastie games!"