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Campaign for Point Loma school after fundraising money stolen

Campaign for Point Loma school after fundraising money stolen
Posted at 5:34 PM, Dec 07, 2023

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Some grateful students in Point Loma are reflecting on a rollercoaster journey after money from a fundraiser was stolen.

For much of October, the fifth grade classes at High Tech Elementary led a school-wide fundraiser, ‘Pennies for Pets,’ as students and families filled jars with spare change and cash to benefit the San Diego Humane Society.

“The students spent a lot of time advertising for the fundraiser. They gave speeches to other classes to let them know what the fundraiser was all about. They worked hard,” said fifth grade teacher Jenny Merrill.

The result? More than $2,000 was raised, including $700 in coins.

Two Saturdays ago, Merrill and another teacher parked at the Mission Valley Mall lot and walked to a bank to see if they could deposit the rolled coins.

Five minutes later, as they returned to the car, they noticed a shattered front window.

“It was sheer panic, and the first thing I said was, ‘Our cash was in there,’” said Merrill.

Gone was a backpack holding her computer, an iPad and the $1,300 in cash that was raised. The coins were not taken.

“I was upset,” said Benjamin Leachman, 10. “We raised so much, and now it’s lost.”

“I was grimacing in shock. I couldn’t believe someone would break into my teacher’s car,” said Renzo Stech, 10.

The next day, Merrill started a Gofundme campaign.

“It really started to blow up. The amount of donations from complete strangers was heartwarming,” said Merrill.

In less than two weeks, the campaign has raised nearly triple the amount that was stolen.

“I was thinking, this is cool. This is generous. This is kind,” said Leachman.

It's been so successful the overflow of donations will allow the students to donate to additional shelters.

“I felt incredible inside. There are so many good people in the world,” said Stech.