Wood River residents are having some decidedly cold reactions to news that Christmas trees were stolen from a charity’s lot over the weekend, but an anonymous donor has made up for it.
Wood River police shared on their Facebook page that “several” trees were stolen during the weekend from the lot on East Edwardsville Road that supports the Ainad Shriners’ mission.
Residents responded on Facebook calling the perpetrator “sick” and calling the theft “ridiculous.”
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The organization reported that six trees, worth about $50 each, were stolen sometime Saturday night into Sunday morning, Wood River Deputy Chief Dan Bunt said.
“Why would you take six, first of all?” Bunt said.
Don Huber, of the Alt-Wood Shriners, said he counts the trees every evening and every morning. On Sunday, six of the Douglas firs from Michigan were missing.
Trees have been stolen before, perhaps one or two a year, but never six, he said.
But on Tuesday morning, the Shriners had some tangible good wishes.
“I was sitting there at the trailer and a gentleman drove up, and he gave the commander” money for the six trees, valued at $50 each, Huber said. The man provided a business card, but per his wishes the Shriners are not sharing his name.
Shriners have operated a lot at the location for three decades, using the profits to support disabled children.
Another Alt-Wood Shriner said there is a dedicated group of volunteers who run the Christmas tree lot every year. Secretary Dana Brockman said the lot isn’t the most profitable of their charity efforts, but it is a tradition.
Brockman was irked at hearing the trees had been stolen.
“At best we’ll make about a thousand bucks on it,” he said of the weeks-long sale. “You’re taking the money from children with disabilities.”
Brockman said the most successful fundraiser of the year tends to be the donations asked for in return for the Shriners’ newsletter.
“I know people get tired of getting asked for money, but Shriners is a philanthropy and the only way we can get money is to ask.”
Wood River police were hoping someone would call with information.
“We’ve given trees to people before if they were down on their luck, you know. You just come and ask for it,” Jim Groppel, of the Shriners, told KSDK news.