Visalia non-profit that helps local Girl Scouts robbed

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Visalia Friendship House opened in 1948.

Last year, the non-profit celebrated 70 years of providing a space for Girl Scouts to gather and grow.

About 400 girls use the house every week.

"It's what I call a gem of Visalia," said Visalia Friendship House board member Sally Saunders. "This is an amazing place that speaks to our community about investment in leadership. I know I got my first job because of what I did in Girl Scouting."

But the Friendship House has a small annual budget, and any improvements they make to the decades-old building need to come from generous donors and fundraising events, like this Friday's Family Bingo Night.

Local Girl Scout troops and community members made 25 gift baskets for the event.

But on Sunday night, someone broke in through the back door of the house and found the baskets, taking $500 worth of gift cards and other items.

They weren't interested in everything, however.

"(There) was a basket of jewelry making, or (there) was a basket of kitchen towels, there was a basket of stationary...(they wanted) nothing to do with it," Saunders said. "They just took anything that was edible or consumable."

They also caused at least $500 in damage to the house - the money for those repairs would have been used for other pressing projects.

Saunders says it hurts the girls the most.

They worked hard on the baskets, and their sense of security was violated.

"You broke a lot of hearts," Saunders said, referring to the burglar/s. "It's exhausting to do volunteer work and to constantly be asking for help and to have someone come in and take what they didn't work for as well as taking away the security of the girls that use this."

"It's heartbreaking."

Thankfully, some of the gift baskets have been replaced. And bingo night is still a go.

Because in order to continue serving future leaders, they'll need the financial support.

The Girl Scouts of Central California South say they will also be donating a basket for Bingo night.

If you'd like to give a gift for bingo night or just want to make a donation to the Friendship House, click here or here.
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