Our Views: Dastardly deed sows harvest of compassion at Janesville's St. Patrick Catholic School

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Sometimes, the worst in human nature spurs the best in people.

Exhibit A is last week's despicable theft from a garden plot at St. Patrick Catholic School in central Janesville.

It was bad enough that someone dug up and stole newly planted tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, etc., at a church school. Doubling the dastardly deed was that a school family donated the money to start the community garden as a memorial to a relative. Tripling it was the plan of schoolchildren and staff to donate the fruits of their labor to residents of House of Mercy. The shelter's homeless families across the street could tend the garden and pick produce this summer.

If you know who might do such a thing, be honorable and decent. Call police. Also, you might not want to stand too close to the perps, lest a bolt of lightning rip from the heavens.

Staff and students arrived Thursday morning to find the plants missing. Only soil remained in the raised beds in a fenced area next to the school's playground. The fence, usually locked, needed repairs. Principal Kenneth Colle called a contractor but told The Gazette he was unsure whether the damage occurred during the theft or some other incident. Unfortunately, exterior security cameras didn't cover the garden.

Maybe young punks were playing a nasty prank. If so, you can only hope a parent catches wind of their errant ways and sets them straight.

Maybe it was someone intending to plant the seedlings in their own garden. If so, perhaps the Bible's “Parable of the Sower” will befall them. In that story, rather than sowing seeds, the person plants the seedlings on rocky soil, where they have little depth, and the sun scorches and withers them.

Colle took a more sympathetic view.

 “I hope it was somebody that really needed them, and God bless them,” he told us Monday.

Those inclined to consider this theft and think, well, that's Janesville for you, should behold the bright light of human decency. Soon after The Gazette and other media chronicled this sad story, generosity spurred a bountiful harvest. By Friday, the school had received between 75 and 100 replacement plants and donations.

It didn't stop there. A couple traveled Monday from Elroy to donate more. The school now has between 100 and 125 plants—more than enough—and started farming them out to school families to plant satellite gardens from which they can also harvest produce to donate.

“I was just totally amazed with the outpouring from the community near and far,” Colle said Monday. “It was a very wonderful thing that the people all did. It was just outstanding.”

That is the Janesville way. Instead of this crime leaving another unwanted and undeserved black mark on our community, the end story shows how neighbors here can and do step forward, rally to the cause and show a spirit of compassion. Their generosity and cooperation restore your faith in humanity. It's a great lesson for these students.

Knowing Janesville as we do, we would expect nothing less.

Gazette editorials express the views of the newspaper's editorial board. Readers are encouraged to comment on editorials through letters to the editor.

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