Japanese language students at Heritage Park Secondary School were disappointed to find thousands of dollars worth of scrap metal they had been collecting was stolen from their school over the weekend.
Their fundraising efforts were suppose to help offset the cost of a two-week trip to Japan at the end of the school year in June.
“I feel annoyed,” said Owen Hildebrant, a Grade 10 student, who still plans to participate in the trip.
“I didn’t think people would stoop that low,” said another student Amber Langley. “We’re high school students fundraising for a trip.”
The students had been collecting scrap metal for almost six months now, said teacher Linda Dickinson, who takes a group of students to Japan every three years. “Japan is an expensive country. It’s not something the kids can work a couple of months for. They have to fundraise.”
Students and their chaperones will visit several cities in Japan, including Mission’s sister sister, Oyama, where they will stay with local families. The trip will cost each student $4,000.
The class rented two bins for the scrap metal last Friday and filled them up on Saturday. The material had been sorted and the bins were supposed to be picked up Monday. There were car batteries, copper wire, and even an aluminum boat in the mix.
“It was six hours of work out in the cold,” explained Grade 10 student Devon Johnston. “Now it was all for nothing.”
“Their enthusiasm has been dampened,” said Dickinson. ‘”But this is a pretty determined group of kids.”
Dickinson explained while a big chunk of their fundraising effort had been taken from them, the experience has strengthened the bond in the group.
“It is heartbreaking for the kids,” said Dickinson, who is still planning to take 13 students overseas in June.
A neighbour in the area saw two people taking the scrap metal Sunday afternoon and reported the incident to police.
According to Mission RCMP Sgt. Shaun Wright, police spoke with a 50-year-old man and a 46-year-old female who had taken a small amount of scrap metal and released them without charge.
A parent discovered the raided bins Sunday night and emailed Dickinson about it.
“There was no evidence linking (the man and woman who police spoke with earlier) to a previous or larger theft,” said Wright. Police are continuing to investigate the theft.
The students will continue with their fundraising efforts and will be holding a bottle drive in the new year.
Anyone with donations can contact Linda Dickinson at the school at 604-820-4587.