Missing money at Public Market turns into kindness and kisses

Phoenix Williams and Brianna Frisby help run the Juneau-Douglas High School art club booth at Public Market, which was located in the Juneau Arts & Culture Center. (Photo by Peter Metcalfe)
Phoenix Williams and Brianna Frisby help run the Juneau-Douglas High School art club booth at Public Market, which was located in the Juneau Arts & Culture Center. (Photo by Peter Metcalfe)

The Juneau-Douglas High School art club is sending 10 students to Art Fest in Skagway, despite a fundraising setback last month. Some money went missing from the club’s booth during Public Market.

The booth was in the Juneau Arts & Culture Center and featured student-made pottery, comic books and holiday cards. Prices ranged from $3 to $15. Art teacher Heather Ridgway and art club students ran the booth.

Juneau-Douglas senior Hal Turman was the last person there the first evening of the three-day market.

“Ms. Ridgway told me to put the cashbox under the table and so I did that and, I don’t know, it wasn’t there the next day,” Turman said.

Turman felt terrible, but Ridgway said she takes the blame. Normally, Ridgway would close the booth and take the cash box home, but she left the market early for a family obligation.

“I was embarrassed. I can’t believe I did that to my kids. I felt awful,” Ridgway said.

She told Public Market employee Thomas Beierly Sr. that money had gone missing.

Beierly told the other vendors about it as a warning to be extra careful with their sale items and money. But then Beierly, along with a couple others, went a step further.

“I went to all the vendors and I asked if they could help donate a couple of bucks that we could help the kids, and everybody agreed and I think the smallest I ever got was $5. The vendors were throwing, like, $10, $20, $20 …” Beierly said.

Beierly said all the vendors at the JACC pitched in. He was able to give the art club more money than what was lost. Ridgway “couldn’t even stop hugging me,” Beierly said.

“I was beside myself with gratitude,” Ridgway said. “We had some cards we were selling with student designs on them and one of the parents that came brought a bunch of Hershey’s Kisses, so we put chocolate kisses in cards together and went around to all the vendors in the JACC and gave everybody a card and chocolate kiss and thanked them.”

In the end, the art club raised about $1,400, enough for all 10 students to take the ferry to Skagway for Art Fest in April.