Students in the Lemon Bay High School NJROTC unit sell Christmas trees each year to raise money for school events.
“This is our biggest fundraiser of the year,” said Senior Chief Bill Rennie.
The fundraiser helps fund Project Graduation and help the NJROTC students participate in JROTC competitions across the state. Tree sales were doing well this year until thieves decided to chop into the profits by stealing 21 Christmas trees from the schools tree lot. ROTC Instructor Bill Rennie discovered the missing trees.
“It looked kind of sparse. We did a quick tree count and we came up with about 21 trees short,” said Rennie.
“I’m kind of disappointed that some one would steal trees, especially that many” said LBHS sophomore Bethany Couto.
The stolen 21 trees were valued at $1050.
“So that is a significant setback. That is about a third of our profit usually from this sale” said Rennie.
The tree theft has left the high school students and staff scratching their heads.
“I can’t understand why somebody would do that knowing, with all the signs out in the front, what the money actually goes for,” said LBHS senior Reyce Bogardus.
The bad news of the stolen Christmas trees sparked an outpouring of good in Englewood.
“We’ve had several [financial] donations from people in the community,” said Rennie.
“I really appreciate all the support we are getting from the community,” said Couto.
“It kind of makes up for the Grinch, actually,” said Bogardus.
The Christmas tree theft disappointed the students but has not stopped them. Senior Chief Rennie says they are already planning a few extra fundraising events to make up for the stolen trees.
If you have information about the stolen trees you can call the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office at (941) 639-2101, or Crime Stoppers at 800-780-TIPS (8477).