SAFE Program Targeted in Heartbreaking Theft

Kristy Tallman

The Senior Alcohol Free Entertainment (SAFE) program, a cherished tradition aimed at providing a safe and enjoyable post-graduation celebration for seniors, has been dealt a devastating blow as thieves targeted its fundraising efforts, leaving the community in shock and outrage.

The SAFE program, organized by dedicated parents, relies heavily on fundraising initiatives, including can drives, to finance the festivities. However, the community was rocked by two separate incidents of theft, with the latest occurring on Jan 27th. Thieves broke into the SAFE container, located in a secured area, and made off with approximately 40 to 45 large bags of sorted cans.

Crystal Montigue, a parent volunteer overseeing the can drive efforts whose son is graduating this year, expressed her dismay, stating, “Someone broke into our container for the SAFE party and stole about 45 large bags of sorted cans. These bags are about 4 feet tall. So we lost a lot of money.”

This latest incident follows a similar break-in on Jan 8th, where thieves cut through locks securing the collection containers and made off with three bags of cans. Efforts to relocate the cans and prevent further theft were already underway after the initial incident.

Police have been notified, and reports have been filed for both incidents. However, apprehending the culprits remains a challenge, leaving the community frustrated.

Chief Ogden of the Sweet Home Police Department (SHPD) said “We are saddened by these incidents and understand the frustration and disappointment of our community. We urge community members to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities. If anyone has any information related to these thefts, we strongly encourage them to contact the Sweet Home Police Department. Your information could be vital in helping us solve this case.”

The stolen funds directly impact the SAFE program’s ability to provide a memorable and safe experience for graduating seniors. Contributions from the community, coupled with fundraising efforts, finance activities and prizes for the all-night event. Among the upcoming fundraisers are bingo nights, a fundraiser at A&W, and a live auction, all designed to replenish the stolen funds and ensure the success of the graduation celebration.

Folks are urged to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities to authorities as currently the thief remains at large and SHPD has no suspect identified for either incident.

In response to the thefts, SAFE has established a Venmo account for donations under the name “Sweet Home High School Graduates Program,” welcoming contributions of any size to support the cause. Additionally, upcoming fundraising events offer opportunities for community members to show their support.

Montigue stated, “They didn’t just steal from our kids, they stole from the community and we appreciate the continued support from everyone!”

Despite the setback, the community remains resilient, with volunteers like Montigue calling on residents to remain attentive. “This is a small community, and we take care of each other,” she said. “If you see something weird like a guy riding a bike with 3 huge bags of cans, maybe call the police just to report it.”

For more information on how to support the SAFE program or report suspicious activities, please contact the Sweet Home Police Department, 541-367-5181.

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