Raising money to buy equipment for a business isn't a typical charitable cause, but that's what's been happening in Warner Robins this week.
Sometime between the evening of March 14 and the next morning, Georgia Landscape Co. in Bonaire had just about all its equipment stolen. The equipment was locked in trailers on a storage lot along Ga. 247, co-owner Tim Waller said. When they came in to start work on the morning of March 15, they discovered that the trailers had been broken into, and just about everything was taken except the riding mowers.
It was a total of about $10,000 worth of equipment, including string trimmers, leaf blowers, backpack sprayers and more. Waller's first thought was how the business of just three employees was going to survive. They had a full schedule of work to do and didn't have the money to replace the equipment. Although the company had insurance, Waller said it could be a while before they got a check.
He soon found that he was getting offers of help. Two businesses in particular have raised hundreds of dollars to help the business get by until the insurance check comes.
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"It is amazing," Waller said. "I honestly didn’t know what we were going to. It's honestly been a blessing. God has taken a bad time and turned it into a message for me and showed me how good people can be."
The first to offer help was Roots, Turf & Ornamental, owned by Jared Icard. He offered to donate and loan some equipment to help, and he started putting the word out about the theft, leading others to donate equipment. That's also how Grandma's Empanadas in Warner Robins heard about it.
Although Waller said he and his crew haven't yet eaten at the restaurant, owner Rikki Waite said she wanted to help. Although the restaurant ordinarily does not accept tips, Waite put out a tip jar Monday and Tuesday with a sign that said all tips would go to help Georgia Landscape Co. recover from the theft. She raised $300 over two days, even though the restaurant is open just for lunch. She handed over a check for the money to Waller on Thursday, while Icard also gave him $400 as a donation from his company.
Waller said he and his crew will be regular customers of the restaurant from now on.
Also, Icard's father is in a band that played at White Diamond restaurant in Bonaire last week. They took up a collection for the business during their performance and raised $350.
"It means the world," Waller said of all the help he has gotten. "We've spent years and years gaining equipment and to have it taken out of nowhere, I didn't know what we were going to do. I was scared."
He said his employees were worried they were going to miss some work, but so far they have been able to work a full schedule. They worked through last weekend to catch up on the work they missed immediately after the theft. Clients have been understanding through it all.
The Houston County Sheriff's Office is investigating the theft. Waller said a couple of pieces of their equipment that were damaged were found in a wooded area in Bibb County, but otherwise there have been no clues about who stole the equipment.