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Send in the troops

A group of Boy Scouts intent on bettering the community was too busy planning upcoming community service and fundraisers to let something like a lowly trailer thief slow its roll this spring.

Barely two weeks after a trailer full of much-used cooking equipment was stolen from its home base at Eastwood Baptist Church in Medford, Troop 5 was surprised by the response of the community around it.

Thanks to the aid of past members of the three-decade-old troop, plus the goodwill from community beneficiaries of their good deeds, local business owners and even Boy Scout troops from out of state, enough money was chipped in to help recoup the trailer and lost equipment.

The scouts were doing trash pickup duty after the Pear Blossom Festival parade in April when they returned to find one of two trailers was suddenly gone.

Troop mom Rachel Ridge, who helped along with other parents to set up a GoFundMe account for the boys, said it was heart-warming to see the community step up to raise just over the $4,500 requested amount.

Less than a month after the theft, the troop has a new trailer with customized vinyl “wrapping” and has added security features for both the new trailer and its other remaining trailer.

Ridge said it was shocking the speed at which the boys had new equipment ready for upcoming events including this weekend’s Medford Cruise.

“I just told them, they’ve walked a lot of little old ladies across the street and done a lot of good for this community, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed,” Ridge said. “The community really stepped up.”

Brian Rogers, owner of Big Sign Fx in Central Point, wrapped the new trailer for half-price and provided labor and some other incidentals to get the trailer detailed for the scouts.

Of the two trailers on hand before the theft, the one stolen was not wrapped in graphics and was unidentifiable as a troop trailer.

“We had the same graphics on file still, so we did it for half the cost. We just wanted to help out the troop. I just couldn’t help but think, ‘Who has the gall to actually have stolen from Boy Scouts?’ ” Rogers said.

“It was just amazing to me that somebody would do that, so this was the least we could do,” he added.

With donations covering the new trailer and materials cost for the wrap, the only remaining items to replace were the grills and water tanks and other equipment in the trailer.

Loren Johnson of Johnson Towing stepped in and rallied a half-dozen smaller towing companies who he said didn’t hesitate to help.

“I just got to thinking and we do our car club show up at Lost Creek Lake, and they already were signed up to do that, and they had a Mother’s Day and Father’s Day breakfast they were planning to do. I kept thinking about it all night after I found out, and I got up the next morning and called a few of the smaller, local towing companies,” Johnson said, noting that Walmart and Bi-Mart and a local propane provider gave the group discounts on replacing gear for the boys.

Towing companies who chipped in to replace cooking equipment included Johnson’s Towing, Dick’s Towing, Noble Towing, Eagle Towing and McCoy Towing.

“I was in Boy Scouts when I was younger, and they do a lot for the community, and it’s just really sad to me that somebody had to go and do that to them. They’re a good group of kids, and we wanted to help them out. I’m 50 years old, but I spent my time in Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, and it hit me the wrong way to even think it could happen and the community wouldn’t make things right for those kids.”

Troop member AJ Norris, 16, said he was grateful for the community’s show of support and hoped that the would-be thief felt remorseful after stealing from a group of scouts.

“It’s pretty cool to know that people wanted to help us get another trailer,” Norris said.

Randall Ridge, 15, said the troop’s tenacity was evident in the fact it had not been deterred by a bad deed.

“I guess that a part of me hopes they’ll see we got a new trailer and think, ‘Darn, we couldn’t stop em!’ ” Randall Ridge said.

“But I don’t know what their motivation was and they really could probably care less. I think it worked out for the good because now we have a better trailer and new equipment. I just hope whoever stole from us thinks twice about what they did.”

Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com.

Life Scouts, AJ Norris (left) and Randall Ridge (right) pose in front of the new Trailer for Scout Troop 5 at Eastwood Baptist Church on Monday. (PHOTO BY: LARRY STAUTH JR)