A teenager who admitted to taking two of the Towne Lake Optimist Club’s flags was forgiven by club members after publicly apologizing at the group’s luncheon Wednesday.
At the club meeting at Eagle Watch Golf Club, the young man stood in front of the group to ask for forgiveness for taking the fundraising flags from Towne Lake Parkway and offered to help the group’s “Avenue of Flags” charity next year. Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Jay Baker, who attended the luncheon, said it was nice to see the teen come forward on his own to take responsibility and ask for forgiveness.
“Every person in the room was moved by his comments,” Baker said. “I wish more conflicts could be resolved this way.”
Accompanied by his mother, the boy told club members and members of the sheriff’s office he gave one of the flags to a friend and was dishonest when questioned by detectives.
Baker identified the boy’s friend as the 16year-old who was arrested and charged with theft by receiving Saturday after the flag was discovered in the bed of his truck, which was parked at Hobgood Park.
“Charges against that juvenile will be dropped,” Baker said.
Club President Matt Halloran said the young man who spoke to club members explained that he had a “boring day” and never realized the implications taking the flags would have.
“I think these are the lessons this young man will never forget,” Halloran said. “He’s a nice young fellow.”
Marvin Glanzer, chairman of the club’s “Avenue of Flags” program, said he was so impressed by the young man’s candor at the luncheon and moved by his statements they decided not to bring charges against him.
“I think it probably made this young man grow up pretty quick,” Glanzer said.
Halloran said the teen will write a two-page essay for the club about what he learned and help recruit for customers to purchase flags.
“I even gave him our creed on our card-sized stock and told him to put it in his wallet and any time he has any doubts, pull out the card and read it,” Halloran said. “One of those says, ‘To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.’” The “Avenue of Flags” program places about 200 custom-made flags at Towne Lake area homes and/or businesses for all six federal holidays for $35 per year. All of the funds raised are given to various organizations and programs that help needy children throughout the county.
However, Glanzer said the club is still missing several flags taken over the Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays.
“Since Memorial Day, 16 flags have been taken so there are 14 more out there somewhere,” Glanzer said. “Since this thing has gotten to be this big, we have to do something.”
At the luncheon, club members said anyone with the flags can leave them at the Eagle Watch neighborhood clubhouse and they will not seek prosecution in the matter.
Halloran said he thinks more young people may be involved in taking the flags, but just like with the young man on Wednesday, the club is not looking to get anyone in trouble.
Glanzer echoed the club president’s sentiments.
“We want the flags back,” Glanzer said. “This program’s going to go on, it’s too important for the kids that really, really have a need in Cherokee County—‘ Friend of the Youth,’ that’s our motto.”
For more information about the Towne Lake Optimist Club and their “Avenue of Flags” charity fundraiser, email Matt Halloran at firstname.lastname@example.org.