While of course it is a mitzvah to give tzadekah, I have heard (though I don't have any attribution) that different kinds of giving are of different worth. Particularly, I have heard that giving anonymously is especially worthy. It seems fairly straightforward that this is because when someone gives anonymously, he/she does so without expectation of social gain and thus proves the selflessness of the act. I am curious if this logic applies to other situations.
A week or so ago, a colleague sent out an email that she had lost an earring at work and requesting its return if found. A few days ago I heard her discussing with someone else the possibility that it had rolled under a cubicle wall or some other piece of furniture. Being a young and able-bodied guy, I decided today, after work when everyone had left, to crawl around under her cubicle and search for the jewelry. Alas, I found it!
Of course I am going to return it to her, and it would be simple enough to present it to her at work tomorrow. However, I am tempted to leave it anonymously somewhere that she will see it (e.g. on her desk wrapped up with a note). Piqued by the moral conundrum, I thought I'd get the perspective from this site. So:
Is it a greater mitzvah to return an item anonymously?
Update: I returned the earring this morning in person. My colleague was very thankful. Thanks for all your input.