By Chris Bavender
A Carmel Girl Scout troop is feeling the spirit of giving this holiday season after the community rallied around them after a thief stole 15 Christmas trees they were selling as part of an annual fundraiser.
The theft was discovered Nov. 30 after Troop 1898 co-leader Christine Woodward noticed the pile of what was supposed to be 152 trees looked smaller.
“Upon my arrival at 4 p.m. we counted all the trees and realized 15 we’re missing,” said troop co-leader Denisse Jensen. “We had a retail loss of $1,245.”
The money the girls raise is used for adventure trips and community service projects that help them earn the Gold Award, which is the highest award in Girl Scouts.
Jensen filed a police report and officers advised a few changes to the lot.
“We turned off all the lights at the end of each shift and it made it very easy for somebody to come in and apparently get our trees,” Jensen said. “So now we have new safety measures in place where we leave all the lights on at night and we now have a security camera.”
Jensen texted the nine troop members to let them know about the theft, and then came the discussion of whether or not the sale would have to be canceled. But, as word of the theft spread, the community stepped forward to show the girls that kindness abounds.
“We were very overwhelmed with the amount of community support we received. Schiller law office came immediately and bought 16 trees from us, followed by Club Canine and they (paid for the 15 stolen trees),” Jensen said. “This is in addition to all of the amazing members of our community buying trees and wreaths and giving us words of encouragement during their visit.”
Jill Slavin, co-owner of Club Canine with Beth Mackey, knew they had to help. The women decided to pay for the stolen trees.
“We couldn’t wrap our brains around why anyone would steal Christmas trees, especially from Girl Scouts,” Slavin said. “Club Canine strongly believes in supporting the Carmel community. Club Canine wanted to turn something very negative into something very positive. Paying for the stolen trees was the right thing to do.”
Jensen also created A GoFundMe page to raise money for the troop. As of Dec. 2, the troop has surpassed its goal of $1,245.
“This unfortunate incident allowed us to see the power of community and what it means to pay it forward,” Jensen said. “So as we reflect we’re very excited to see how we can pay it forward to our community.”
The Christmas tree lot is expected to be open through Dec. 8. Hours are 5 to 7 p.m. Dec. 6, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 7 and noon to 8 p.m. Dec. 8.