Girl Scout Troop scrambles to gather replacements for items stolen from van

Note to car thieves: Don't mess with the Girl Scouts.

You might steal a 1989 Toyota Camry belonging to 'Troop Cookie Mom' Lisa Sablan. You might ditch the car about 10 minutes from where you stole it - right out of her apartment complex's parking lot in the 1100 block of Northwest Avenue Wallula - only to be found by Portland police with the ignition popped.

You might steal four cases of Girl Scout cookies from the trunk. Cookies earmarked for troops serving in Afghanistan.

But you will not, will not says Sablan, steal these girls' faith in humanity.

See, Friday, March 19, the parents of six girls, ages 8 to 9, who make up Troop 40853, had to explain to them that Sablan's car was stolen. The cookies - cookies buyers donated in front of grocery stores, cookies they'd agreed to donate to soldiers in Afghanistan, cookies worth nearly $200 - were in the trunk.

'But who would do that?' they asked, their innocence tender and exposed. Who would steal their cookies, cookies destined to bring joy to soldiers?

Their parents - ah, their poor parents - had to explain that the crooks didn't know who the cookies were for. Even if they did, they may not have cared.

That last part, the part about not caring, took a minute or two to digest.

Then the resilient girls bounced back. They needed more cookies and money to pay for them. Piggy banks spilled open. Allowances were tallied. They agreed to use their club dues to buy replacement cookies instead of going on an outing or activity.

Parents, unable to bear it, decided they'd try to come up with $30 for each Girl Scout to replace the stolen cookies. If they couldn't come up with that much cash, Sablan and Troop Leader Jina Ellison agreed to split the difference.

Sablan found herself telling her sister about it.

The stolen car that now can only be started with a screwdriver.

The crestfallen look on her daughter Katelynn's face when she discovered the thieves had also taken her Girl Scout vest.

And most importantly, how the girls reacted with such grace and purpose and resiliency.

Sablan's sister emailed the story to a television news program. The story aired Tuesday, March 22. Two more television news programs ran the story the following night.

Donations rolled in. Some gave $1. Another donated $400. Other Girl Scout troops also reached out, offering their own cookies to replace those stolen from Troop 40853.

It's been heartening - the outpouring of support and the media attention. A national television program is interviewing the girls at 6:20 a.m. Saturday, March 26, to air live on the East Coast at 9:20 a.m. before 2 million viewers.

'The public support has been phenomenal,' Sablan said. 'We're so lucky. We're so blessed. One bad thing has turned into a million good things.'

To donate on behalf of Girl Scout Troop 40853, call 503-977-6800.

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