An assortment of bottles was stolen from the Sea Cadets over the weekend.

Community steps up to help after bottles stolen

Campbell River really comes together when the chips are down, and it showed that community spirit yet again this week

Campbell River really comes together when the chips are down, and it showed that community spirit yet again this week.

Last week, Angie Schoenfelder, an officer with the Campbell River Sea Cadets, put a “rant” on the Campbell River Rant, Rave and Randomness Facebook page, calling out “the person or persons who stole all the bottles from the Campbell River Sea Cadets.”

And the people of Campbell River immediately jumped to action.

The response to the post began with expressions of sadness and anger, but soon evolved into, “We have lots we can donate,” and, “I just brought in all my empties (and) it came to 80 dollars. I will throw that in.”

Schoenfelder didn’t make the post to try and garner support – she was expecting a more negative response, in fact, knowing what the community on that particular page can be like.

“I was so shocked. It definitely was not what I was anticipating. I was bracing myself for negativity, but it’s amazing that the community stepped up like that. It’s great.”

Candice Castro, secretary of the Navy League Parent Committee, has been on the site since the post, messaging the people who were asking how to donate, and volunteering to have donations picked up.

“There were a lot of people, too, who said, ‘I want to donate, but I’ll go and sort them and just give them to your account at the bottle depot,’ which was nice that they wanted to make it a little easier on us,” Castro says.

Bottle collection has become one of the organization’s main ways of raising funds over the years.

“For the longest time we didn’t do bottle drives. It just wasn’t on our radar,” Shoenfelder says. “And then a few years ago, we did one, and it was just huge. We probably do four a year now, and it’s our biggest source of funds.”

This particular batch of bottles wasn’t from a drive, but from one person who had recently donated to the group. Unfortunately, they were donated on a day when there weren’t cadets around to sort and return them, which was to happen on the weekend.

“Normally we don’t have that many here at one time,” Schoenfelder said, “and it’s kind of sad that we can’t, apparently. Unfortunately, it’s ‘lesson learned’ on us, I guess.”

The fence of the gated compound at the Navy League Hall is 10 feet tall, topped with three strands of barbed wire, and is locked. The locks were intact when the bottles were found missing, and no holes were found in the fencing, meaning whoever stole them must have climbed over and back. There were remnants of clear plastic caught on some of the barbs, indicating to the group that the bags had, indeed, been thrown over the fence from the inside.

“Our only hope is that the people who took them really needed them,” Shoenfelder says.

“But these kids need them, too,” adds Castro. “They work really hard all year, they train all year with the program and they do a ton of fundraising throughout the year to make sure they have a place to meet and train.”

“Fundraising is huge for us,” Schoenfelder says. “The Sea Cadets program itself is funded by the Department of National Defence, but the local branch is responsible for their own hall, plus any extras that the cadets want to do.”

As an example, she says, the Campbell River branch is currently saving up to go to Victoria to see CFB Esquimalt – a valuable experience for the corps, but one which isn’t covered by the funding model.

“As it is not a part of the training expectations, it would need to be paid for by the local corps. It has been a few years since we were able to go,” she says.

Anyone interested in donating bottles to the cause can take them to North Island Bottle Depot & Recycling on Maple Street in Campbellton and ask for them to go on the cadets’ account, or contact the group directly at 250-287-8689.