UPDATE: Facebook post helps reunite child with lost stuffed anim - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: Facebook post helps reunite child with lost stuffed animal

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UPDATE:  A viral Facebook post helps reunite a lost stuffed animal with the 4-year-old who left it behind at an I-80 rest stop.

It all started when Marion mom Katie Hoeppner took to Facebook after finding a stuffed animal left behind in an I-80 rest-stop bathroom. Hoeppner thought it'd be a long shot. She posted about the stuffed animal, who she named "George," that was left behind, and included a picture. In just hours, the post had been shared thousands of times and garnered national attention. 

Late Wednesday night, a teacher reached out to Hoeppner saying the stuffed animal belonged to one of her students. Later, the family reached out to Hoeppner. 

Hoeppner had received multiple messages from people claiming the stuffed animal, but none of their stories seemed to match up. That wasn't the case for this family from Huxley, Iowa who told her "George" actually belonged to their 4-year-old. They told her about stitches the stuffed animal had on its neck that she had missed completely, until they told her to look for them. 

Hoeppner says she's giving "George," a bath and mailing him home tomorrow. 

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Any parent knows well, their child's stuffed animal quickly becomes their closest companion. 

Katie Hoeppner, of Marion, knew this to be true for both of her children. Which is why, when she made the discovery of a stuffed animal left behind in an I-80 rest stop bathroom, she knew she had to reunite it with its owner. 

Hoeppner took to Facebook, thinking it'd be a long shot. She posted about the stuffed animal that was left behind, and included a picture. In just hours, the post had been shared thousands of times and garnered national attention. 

"People have posted in Facebook that it was shared in South Africa, and England, and Rio, and I'm like this is big," said Hoeppner. 

The stuffed animal has a little wear and tear, but is still holding up. Hoeppner says her daughter still carries around her stuffed animal, so she knows just how important this is for the child who lost it.

"He's well loved," said Hoeppner. "He's slept with a child every night and he's gone places. And he's seen the same things and experienced the same things as this little kid that he belongs to and he needs to get home to him."

Hoeppner and her two kids decided to name the toy "George," and document their adventure with him in the meantime. 

"She took him to school to a cheer competition," said Hoeppner. "He's been to dinner with us. And he went to church with us, and he's at work with me today."

Even her oldest has turned George into the Hawkeyes biggest fan, as they sat together to watch the game. 

"And he's 12," said Hoeppner. "To get a tween-ager involved-he's been really fun with it."

There's no shortage of places George has been, even getting the occasional latte at Starbucks. 

"I just want to get him home, whoever he belongs to," said Hoeppner. "There's some kid out there missing his stuffed animal and so I just want him to be reunited."

Hoeppner says she's gotten tons of messages claiming they're the owner of George, but none of their stories seem to match up. 

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