SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO (CBSLA) — Every Friday, the Green Team — a group of special education students at Marco Forster Middle School in San Juan Capistrano — collect recyclables to fill a large metal bin on campus.
When the bin is full, the recyclables are taken to a plant that pays the school between $800 and $1,200. That money is then used to take special education students on field trips, like the one they recently took to Shea Center to go horseback riding.
But sometime over the past week, staff on campus discovered that the bin was empty. They said the lock had been cut, and a year’s worth of valuable recyclables had been taken.
“I think that’s terrible,” Dominic Barto, a Marco Forster student, said. “That’s such a bad thing to do, especially to the Green Team.”
A bright yellow sign now hangs from the empty bin, addressed to the “grinch” who made off with $600 worth of recyclables.
“We’re just kind of rolling with it,” Mari Weisberg, an education specialist at the school, said. “We’re just going to still do what we do, we’re still going to keep our campus green, and we’re going to try to make our program bigger and more well known.”
Thieves also hit two other campuses in the district over Thanksgiving break, emptying their recycling bins. The loss across the three campuses was estimated at $2,000, but staff at Marco Forster are not letting this setback define them.
“These kids are awesome,” Weisberg said. “They are absolutely kids who overcome challenges every day, and this is no different.”
Natascha Hannegan, an aide with the school, set up a GoFundMe page that has already raised more than $3,000 as of Friday evening.
“We are overwhelmed by the amount of support we have received,” she said in an update on the page.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department was continuing to investigate, but said they had no suspects in the thefts.