A group of Cary Girl Scouts saw some of the best and worst of neighbors in the past few days as the theft of $417 in cookie money was quickly followed by an outpouring of community support.
Troop 1347 spent Saturday morning selling cookies outside of the Walgreens at 500 Northwest Hwy. But as the girls were packing up at the end of their shift, the cookie money disappeared. Lynn Rogers, one of the four troop leaders, said the theft happened during a transition period as another troop was arriving for its own shift.
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As word got out, money started flowing in.
Cary Police Chief Steven Casstevens dropped a personal check off Monday morning to reimburse the troop for the $417. He said a local businessman did the same thing.
"I just felt it was the right thing to replace that money," Casstevens said. "If it gets replaced two, three or four times, it's that much better because it's a worthy cause."
In terms of finding out who took the money in the first place, Casstevens said it will be hard. There were no witnesses who saw anyone suspicious, and there is no video surveillance of the outside of the store where the girls were selling cookies.
Rogers said the troop has received at least $1,500 in donations, with several people contributing the full amount stolen, like Casstevens.
The scouts will continue accepting donations but have decided to give everything in excess of $417 to the Girl Scouts of Japan to help the country recover from the recent earthquake and tsunami.
"The people in the community came together to support them," Rogers said. "For the girls to see that firsthand, they're wanting so much to pay it forward."
The girls of Troop 1347 had been working since January on a Japanese patch for Thinking Day, which encourages the Scouts to think about girls in other parts of the world.
That patch arrived just a few days ago, keeping Japan fresh in the sixth-graders' minds.
Rogers said troop leaders are working to establish a local account to collect money for Japan. Until then, anyone interested in donating can send checks to Girl Scouts of the USA Fund Development, P.O. Box 5046, New York, NY 10087-5046 with the memo line "For Girl Scouts of Japan Relief Efforts."
For the girls of Troop 1347, it's been an emotional ride these last few days. Rogers said they were shocked and upset to realize someone had stolen their money, but then excited to see the community response.
"It's wonderful to think something so positive could come from something that doesn't start that way," Rogers said.
In the end, Rogers said it turned into a good learning experience for the troop.