NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. – After several people broke into Fletcher High School and vandalized thousands of dollars worth of landscaping equipment and the school’s athletic field, the community’s powerful response turned things around.
Just days ago, vandals broke into the athletic complex at Fletcher High School in Neptune Beach, leaving a trail of destruction, but a local business owner is making sure students have a place to play when school returns by organizing a fundraiser with big results.
A challenge was posted online Monday afternoon on the Facebook page of Angie’s Subs in Jacksonville Beach to raise money to replace the damaged lawnmowers and shed.
School leaders believe the damage took place Thursday night. Surveillance video shows at least three people up to no good on campus.
Angie’s Subs owner Ed Malin said they destroyed lawnmowers, irrigation lines, fencing and scoreboards.
“They ran the equipment into the scoreboard stanchions into the fencing and, and tore the wheels, the tires off the rims, so when the tires were off the rims, they are gouging just doughnuts in the football field,” Malin said. “I think that the tires got into the irrigation because there was irrigation that was pulled up.”
A report from Duval Schools police shows nearly $9,000 worth of destruction, some property belonging to the county, others to the booster clubs.
In less than 24 hours, $19,460 was raised on the GoFundMe page — well over the costs for damages.
Malin has a vested interest in Fletcher. Not only is his restaurant just around the corner from the school, but he’s also hired Fletcher students and alums for the past 23 years.
“I’ve watched a lot of great students come and go and been able to employ a lot of Fletcher students through the years,” Malin said. “It’s just, it’s in our blood. Fletcher’s just a big part of our livelihood.”
Every year, Angie’s sponsors the scoreboard at Fletcher, but Malin is giving those naming rights to the company that donated the most to the campaign.
Surface Management Corporation made the largest donation of $2,000, which means they have the option for “naming rights” to go up on the field house.
Since the fundraiser surpassed its goal, the organizer disabled new donations.
Fletcher High School Principal Dean Ledford sent News4JAX a statement saying: “Our community is amazing! They have always shown outstanding support for Fletcher High School, and it is impossible to overstate how much it is appreciated.”
Malin has a message for the people who caused the damage.
“I would hope that they would see the outpouring of love from the community and I would hope that that would sink into their hearts and say, ‘You know what, why did we do this? This was really stupid.’ And I hoped that they would learn from it,” Malin said.
He also had a message for those who donated to the campaign: a big “Thank You” on the message board outside Angie’s Subs.
Police said are still looking for the people responsible.
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