As of Saturday early afternoon about $6,600 had been raised of the $25,000 goal.
Kevin Harper, director of business development at A New Leaf Garden Center, said he got a call from a fellow employee Friday telling him the business was vandalized. He said he never could have imagined how bad it was going to be.
“As you walk in you can just see the mass chaos that happened,” Harper said as he stepped over plants.
Hundreds of plants were taken out of their pots, thrown on the ground and stepped on.
The center employs disabled adults. Harper said, like him, they had a hard time understanding why the vandalism happened when they showed up to work and saw police outside.
“They’re like ‘Kevin, why did this happen?’ “ Harper said. “I don’t have a good explanation. I just said ‘Some people they just aren’t nice. They do mean things.’ “
Michelle Hood, one of the disabled workers, said she cried when she got to work.
“I feel like it took me two to three years to take car of what we see here right now today,” Michelle said.
She has worked at the garden center for seven years. Her job is to massage the roots of the plants to make sure they keep growing.
Friday, she sat on the ground trying to salvage what she could from the destruction. Michelle put the plants back into their containers.
Harper said they had just moved all of their inventory to the location that was vandalized the day before to prepare for the next three weeks. Typically he said they make about one-third of their profit for the year in the next three weeks. Harper estimates it would be about $40,000 in sales. Now they cannot sell the plants.
“They have no business entering a facility where disabled people work hard every single day in the heat,” Michelle said.
She hopes they find whoever did it.
“I wish they would just come up forward and ask why they did it,” Michelle said.
Harper said it was hard to see the workers reactions because on a daily basis he gets to see how excited they get when customers buy what they have grown.
“I don’t know what to say to the person who would come in here and destroy this for no reason, but I hope you can get help and figure out whatever is broken with you,” Harper said. “I hope you can find someone to help you, because there is no sense to come in and destroy something like this.”
A New Leaf is dedicated to bouncing back, especially since their proceeds go towards programs that teach their workers life skills and how to be independent.
Friday afternoon, volunteers showed up to help salvage what they could.
“As a nonprofit we depend on the sales from our social enterprise, garden center, to support the programs we have to serve adults with disabilities. This kind of violence and destruction is unacceptable,” says Mary Ogle CEO of A New Leaf.
The incident happened at 2405 S. Elm Place in Broken Arrow.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for A New Leaf. Vintage Phoenix in Broken Arrow is also donating 10-percent of its proceeds to the garden center.