A Somerset native is heartbroken after learning a toy from her childhood was mistakenly donated to an auction four years ago.

But this is no ordinary toy.

It’s a one-of-a-kind rocking elephant handcrafted by a grandfather for his only granddaughter, and Allyson Vieira will do anything to have it in her possession again.

“I had a very warm relationship with my grandfather,” she said.  “I adored him.”

Manuel “Mickey” Vieira wasn’t a professional carpenter, but he had his own woodshop in his basement where he would make all kinds of things.

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In 1982, he built a rocking elephant for his special granddaughter. It was the only toy he ever made for her.

“I loved going down there. ... My love of making things comes from him,” Vieira said.

Vieira went from watching her grandfather build to becoming a sculptor of her own. She runs her own studio in New York and is an art professor in Washington, D.C. She even teaches woodshop, proving the apple doesn’t fall far.

Growing up in Somerset, she was extremely close with her grandfather.

“I was his only grandchild,” she said. “He (and my grandmother) took care of me a lot while my parents worked.”

For the past four years, Vieira believed her special rocking elephant was tucked away in the basement at her childhood home, but she discovered a few weeks ago it was inadvertently donated to Christ Church in Swansea for an auction, and she was devastated.

“This was the one thing, literally the only thing, that I had from him. It represented his love for me and our relationship,” said Vieira. “I thought it was safe in my hometown, and come to find out, it wasn’t.”

Vieira is asking for the community’s help in finding her beloved rocking elephant and is willing to give a reward to the person who knows of its whereabouts.

Have you seen this elephant? Email Allyson at lostelephant22@gmail.com.

Courtesy of Allyson Vieira
Courtesy of Allyson Vieira
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