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Spirit of giving at play after theft of Elmira family’s wagon

After their green wagon was stolen, Jennifer and James Howell were put in contact with Krista McBay, owner of the Elmira Home Hardware store. McBay donated a brand new wagon to the Howell family on Dec. 21. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
After their green wagon was stolen, Jennifer and James Howell were put in contact with Krista McBay, owner of the Elmira Home Hardware store. McBay donated a brand new wagon to the Howell family on Dec. 21. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
There was a touch of the Christmas spirit in the air after a Grinch-like act was met by an equal and opposite reaction when a local merchant replaced the wagon stolen from an Elmira family.

For Jennifer and James Howell and their son Robert, their big green wagon was a link to the world around them. Without a car to get around with, when the wagon was stolen a couple of weeks ago, the loss was felt.

“We use the wagon to deliver papers, get groceries, carry all of our hockey equipment and all of that stuff. That is our transportation. We really needed it,” said Jennifer.

James says it was a big challenge trying to carry the family’s hockey equipment to the Woolwich Memorial Centre. The family plays on the Woolwich Sun Rays special hockey team.

“It is hard to carry two huge hockey bags with the goalie pads, and plus, there are two hockey sticks at the same time, and now in the snow,” he said.

When Elmira Home Hardware owner Krista McBay heard about the Howells’ plight, she decided to fill that gap with the donation of a brand new wagon for the family.

“That is what we do. We help our community. It was a no-brainer – it was just what we had to do,” McBay explained.

James was the first to discover that the family’s wagon had gone missing from the spot they had kept it for four years without a problem. Jennifer was napping inside the apartment, right underneath the window of their basement apartment.

“We called the cops and everything, and there wasn’t much they could do,” said Jennifer. “James came home from work and woke me up. He asked me what happened to the wagon and I was like, ‘huh? What about the wagon?’” she shared. “We used that wagon for everything.”

There was only a small window of time when someone could have taken it.

“It was there that morning when I went to work, my son left to go to school on the city bus, it was still there. Between me going out for an hour and a half, it went missing. All I saw when I came back, was footprints. It looked like they picked up the wagon and dragged it away. There were wheel tracks in the snow,” said James.

Now, they have a brand new wagon, a newer version of the one they lost. Both Jennifer and James are still on the lookout for their old one, however.

“If anyone sees it, they can bring it back and we will have two, and we can give it to someone else who needs it,” said Jennifer, continuing the theme of giving to others in need.

McBay also wants to see others in the community look around and find out where they can give back to those that don’t have as much.

“I would ask them to put themselves in the position of a family like the Howells, the family members of the Howells, and just see what you can do to make other people’s lives easier,” she said. “Just pay it forward a bit. We are so rich and lucky in our community, there is no reason for anyone to go without the basics.”

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