ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) - Leaders at Roanoke's Salvation Army say their community garden was burglarized this week.The garden is right next to the Salvation Army at 8th Street and Stewart Avenue SE. Now, they say they are missing vital tools used by the various gardeners.
"We had the best strawberries this year," said Mission Specialist Becky Brandenberger. "They were so wonderful"
What's also wonderful to Brandenberger is how this small garden has helped her community flourish.
"This is a place that's free for people to come and enjoy gardening," she said, walking in between planter beds.
It's free but Brandenberger said that earlier this week someone decided they'd take more than their fair share.
"I wanted to come and put up my bird feeder to feed my birds and when I came to get the suet out of the shed, no suet no tools," she said.
For the last two years, she says the tools laid in a bag out in the open!
But she recently stored them in a new shed recently built for them by an Eagle Scout.
"This is the shed, just the way we found it," she said, looking inside.
She believes the thief likely climbed under the fence, taking about eight different gardening tools.
Brandenberger is still a bit upset about it.
"Yeah, really disappointing.'
It's not because the tools belong to her, but to the community.
People use this garden to feed their families and others in the neighborhood.
"It just hurts that someone would do that to their own community," she said.
It's a community that brand new Captain Jamie Clay is just getting to know.
"I think when you're trying to get ingrained into a community and feel like you're starting to make progress and then all of a sudden," Clay said, "this just feels like a set back."
Even still, the garden is lush, planted seeds are growing, and they're reaping the fruit of their labor in more ways than one.
"It gives us a sense of pride that we've done something good for our neighborhood," Brandenberger said.
The leaders say they were hoping to expand the garden this year, but might have to divert resources to buying new tools. They want people to know that if they are in need they can ask the Salvation Army about getting assistance.