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Club hoping company will loan, donate vehicle

WALTHAM, Mass. —The Waltham Boys & Girls Club is looking for help and answers after staff members found one of the organization’s transportation vans torched earlier this week, Wicked Local reported.

Someone got into the van, found a flare in the emergency kit, lit it and threw it in the backseat, police said.

When a staff member from the club went out to the back parking lot early Tuesday, the van was still smoldering and the Fire Department had to put it out. Police are investigating.

“We were just shocked,” said Erica Fitch, director of operations at the club.

The van was older — a 1995 Ford — but it was working perfectly, Fitch said. The 15-seater was one of three vans the organization uses to take after school program members from school to the club on Exchange Street.

While the club does still have the other two 10-seaters, it needs that third one, Fitch said. The club has a transportation schedule — there is a time during the day when all three vans are supposed to be out picking up children.

In addition, the vans take athletes on traveling teams to their games. With basketball tryouts this week and the season starting this month, the club is in a bind.

So the club is hoping that any company with a passenger van or bus could loan or donate a vehicle, Fitch said. Any monetary donation would help as well.

“There’s a lot of activity going on transporting kids around,” Fitch said. “We really depended on that van. It was used every single day.”

It’s not really an option to buy a new van, as it’s not in the budget at this time. The club will get some money from insurance on the old one, possibly a couple thousand dollars, but a new van would cost upward of $25,000, Fitch said.

Club staff were left scratching their heads over why anyone would want to destroy one of the vans and Fitch didn’t know of anything like that happening before.

“At the end of the day, they’re hurting kids,” Fitch said.

The vans also bring the youth on field trips. Being down one could limit how many people can take advantage of, for example, recently donated tickets to “The Nutcracker.”

“It’s going to be difficult bringing as many kids as we’d like,” Fitch said.

In addition, during the summer, that van is used to distribute meals to people in need.

“I would hate to see services in the community suffer because we weren’t able to provide that transportation,” Fitch said.

Police said they have some video of the incident, but the matter is still under investigation. Fitch is confident in the authorities working on the case that someone will be brought to justice.

Anyone with any information should reach out to the Waltham Police Department at 781-314-3600 or call the hotline at 781-314-3636. People can also send tips through social media on Twitter, Facebook and Citizen Observer.

To contact the Waltham Boys & Girls Club, call 781-893-6620.