Tofino Nature Kids owner Heather Fleming leads local youth through ‘Circle Time’ activities, where the kids make introductions, share gratitude, sing songs and learn the camp’s rules all while sharing a laugh. (Rachel Hirst photo)

Community’s love covers heartless theft from Tofino Nature Kids

“People were super shocked that someone would reach that low to be stealing from kids.”

A heartless theft from a Vancouver Island children’s program has shone a heartwarming spotlight on the West Coast’s good will.

“I’m feeling super overwhelmed with gratitude for how much support the community showed and how they just turned this awful act of somebody into an amazing act of so many other people,” said Tofino Nature Kids owner/operator Heather Fleming.

A thief, or thieves, broke into of the program’s storage shed at Chesterman Beach sometime between Aug. 22-24, making off with a dry-bag that contained various items needed to take the 3-12 year old participants on nature walks and hikes throughout the region.

“Basically one of the 2x4s that holds the lock on was ripped off; the screws were fully ripped out,” Fleming said.

RELATED: Skateboard Samaritan keeps Vancouver Island kid rolling

RELATED: Anonymous Good Samaritan pays outstanding rent for Sidney woman facing eviction

Included among the snatched items were face masks related to COVID-19, epipens, bandanas and toilet paper and a hand-washing bin containing two beach towels used for picnics was also snatched.

She added that whoever took the bag removed a first aid kit and some other contents before running off.

“They knew it was a valuable bag and they took that and quickly took out a couple items and then took the rest,” she said adding she is not optimistic that the bag will be returned.

“I don’t imagine whoever stole it would be sticking around town much.”

Fleming said she reported the theft to police and then reached out to the West Coast through social media asking if anyone had seen the bag or knew anything about who had stolen it. While she didn’t receive any leads on the bag’s whereabouts, she was quickly covered in a blanket of support from her community.

“People were super shocked that someone would reach that low to be stealing from kids,” she said adding the thief had to have known the bag belonged to the program because the shed and contents within it are clearly marked with Tofino Nature Kids branding.

She said she instantly began receiving messages from people wanting to help as locals quickly rallied around her to replace the stolen items with a new bag and supplies.

Fleming said she then received a message from a parent of one of the kids in the program who offered to launch a GoFundMe campaign, so she suggested raising funds for a new shed would be ideal.

“I had already received incredible community support to replace all the items from businesses and individuals,” she said.

Wow! Wow! Wow! I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Thank you SOOO much to everyone that donated and shared kind words of…

Posted by Tofino Nature Kids on Thursday, August 27, 2020

She added though that while the items had been replaced, a new shed could help prevent future thefts.

The campaign quickly gained traction and reached it’s $3,000 goal in just about three days.

“I was blown away, really. I was speechless. I appreciate how much support the community just gave and so many people I don’t know donated, which is really amazing,” she said, adding an anonymous donation of $1,000 came in.

“It’s really nice. With COVID-19, I’ve been working really hard to make it so that this program could open and it just shows me how much the community really appreciates all the work that myself and my team have put into making this program successful this summer. Knowing that they have my back means a lot to me and helps support me in continuing to run programs knowing that the hard work that I’m doing is really appreciated.”

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

fundraisertheftTofino,

Just Posted

Rare fish washes onto Whiffin Spit in Sooke

Deep water fish identified as ‘King-of-the-salmon’

Extravagant marriage proposal in Ucluelet

“It was such a dream. He brought a dream to life. No one does this anymore.”

Nanaimo’s Best of the City: This year’s winners

Readers smash voting records in this year’s poll to determine the best Nanaimo has to offer

Ucluelet mayor criticizes province’s lack of communication as highway closures resume

Daily closures return to only highway in and out of Tofino-Ucluelet starting Sept. 30

EDITORIAL: Let’s take steps to clear the smoke

Work needed to make wildfires, heavy smoke and poor air quality things of the past

B.C.’s top doctor thanks supporters after revealing threats over COVID-19 measures

Dr. Bonnie Henry says COVID-19 has caused some people to lash out in anger and frustration out of fear

NDP, Greens divided on pace of child care improvements in B.C. election campaign

NDP Leader John Horgan recommitted to $10-a-day child care and blamed the Greens for not supporting his efforts

Air Ambulance call follows on the heels of three Comox Valley crashes in one night

If the conditions are less than optimal, drivers are expected to adjust their speed and slow down.

Port Alberni RCMP searching for missing 43-year-old man

Maxime Ouellet is known to camp in wooded areas around Port Alberni

Facey nominated as BC Liberal candidate for the North Island riding

Liberal candidate Norm Facey has a background in forestry and manufacturing.

Who’s running in Cowichan?

A list of Cowichan candidates for the upcoming provincial election

Changes to lumber exports are welcome news for San Group in Port Alberni

San Group hoping to have new remanufacturing plant up and running by mid-October

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs back on the ice for extended training camp

First exhibition game will take place Oct. 2 against Nanaimo Clippers

Most Read