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From Theft to Thanks

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Photo by Michael J. ARVIZU Former Dodgers infielder Dee Gordon takes a “selfie” with members of the Tujunga Little League. Gordon helped dedicate the field along with Tujunga Little League parents and staff.

Photo by Michael J. ARVIZU
Former Dodgers infielder Dee Gordon takes a “selfie” with members of the Tujunga Little League. Gordon helped dedicate the field along with Tujunga Little League parents and staff.

By Michael J. ARVIZU

It was all made possible thanks to a donation given out of the kindness of their hearts.

When Artificial Grass Liquidators heard that the Tujunga Little League’s field of synthetic grass had been stolen a month ago, the Temecula-based company decided to take action to replace it.

Around the night of Nov. 10, thieves made off with the turf, which was used as the game field for the Tujunga Little League’s T-ball team and the baseball team’s warm-up field. LAPD officers say the theft remains unsolved and are asking the community for help solving the crime.

“The investigation is still open. We continue to explore any clue that we’ve received,” said Cesar Contreras, LAPD Sunland senior lead officer. “I know we’ve received a lot of phone calls about it. We continue to investigate this case and if there’s any other clues that come out, or any additional information that anybody has, they can definitely call our station.”

Contreras added his department has received some leads, but most have resulted in dead ends.

Tujunga Little League T-ball player Aolani Dominguez, 7, attempts to catch a fly ball tossed by a teammate during an event to inaugurate the league's new synthetic field.

Tujunga Little League T-ball player Aolani Dominguez, 7, attempts to catch a fly ball tossed by a teammate during an event to inaugurate the league’s new synthetic field.

A parent-run organization, Tujunga Little League dodged a financial bullet following the theft, said Bill Mayes, Tujunga Little League president.

Thanks to the donation of 4,000 square feet of synthetic grass made by Artificial Grass Liquidators, and donations that poured in following the theft, the league was able to prevent a loss of between $3,000 and $5,000, said Mayes. Shortly after the theft, the league opened a GoFundMe account to raise money for a new field. As of Wednesday night, $1,371 out of $3,000 had been raised.

“I think it’s amazing. It’s really wonderful,” said Chantel Gray, a resident of Sunland and Tujunga Little League parent of Joseph and Christian. “AGL [Artificial Grass Liquidators] did a wonderful thing by donating this. It was really sad when we realized that [the turf] was missing. It was a miracle. It was really sweet of AGL.”

Gray said it would take an entire year’s worth of Tujunga Little League’s revenue to replace the stolen turf.

“Everybody in the community just came forward – different organizations,” Mayes said. “People are helping us out. It’s a great thing. There’s good people in the world.”

Bill Mayes, Tujunga Little League president, speaks during a ceremony to dedicate the league's new field on Wednesday, Dec. 10.

Bill Mayes, Tujunga Little League president, speaks during a ceremony to dedicate the league’s new field on Wednesday, Dec. 10.

Mayes said he has received calls from all over the state wanting to donate, mostly from people who saw news reports of the theft on television.

“It breaks your heart that somebody would do this, knowing that it directly affects the kids,” said Luis Aguilar, a Sunland resident and Tujunga Little League parent of Adrian and Andrew.

His company is a Christian business, said Dillon Georgian, owner of Artificial Grass Liquidators. As such, the decision to donate company time, services and supplies was a simple one to make, he said.

“It’s about giving, forgiveness, praying over them, healing them,” Georgian said.

He first heard about Tujunga Little League’s plight during a staff meeting. Georgian’s immediate concern was for the kids – he didn’t want them to have to play out in the street.

Artificial Grass Liquidators donated 4,000 square feet of synthetic grass to the Tujunga Little League to replace the artificial turf stolen by thieves in November. The field serves as the T-ball team's playing field and the baseball team's warm-up field.

Artificial Grass Liquidators donated 4,000 square feet of synthetic grass to the Tujunga Little League to replace the artificial turf stolen by thieves in November. The field serves as the T-ball team’s playing field and the baseball team’s warm-up field.

“I was just praying and praying overnight,” he said. “God put it in our hearts to come out here and donate and install a field.”

As late as Dec. 9, Georgian’s company was putting the finishing touches on the new synthetic grass, their distinctive green and black trucks bearing the company logo parked adjacent to the field.

“We’ve been blessed with such a good company, we just wanted to come out here and bless others,” Georgian said. “It’s coming around Christmastime, and my goal was coming to get it done before then.”

According to Georgian, a synthetic grass field normally costs between $10,000 and $15,000, with most of the cost going toward installation.

“A couple bucks a foot you can get it for,” Georgian said of the synthetic grass. “Installation’s a big part of it because it’s heavy and it’s hard to do.”

At 500 square feet – each roll weighing at least 5,000 pounds – Georgian and Mayes cannot fathom how someone could have stolen the turf. No tracks from industrial equipment were found at the scene of the crime, Georgian said.

Tujunga Little League members try out their new synthetic grass field.

Tujunga Little League members try out their new synthetic grass field.

“I like how it’s softer and it’s bigger, so it’s easier to run,” said Joseph Gray. “And there’s more field.”

Tujunga resident and Tujunga Little League baseball player Dakota Perez, 12, felt bad for his younger T-ball teammates after the turf was stolen.

“I felt bad that the T-ballers would not be able to play, that they might fall and hurt themselves on the rocks,” he said.

Without the soft grass to warm up on, they would have to use the bigger baseball field, Perez said.

Of the new synthetic grass, Perez said, “This one’s way cooler. It’s bigger, more room to play on.”

Anyone with information regarding the theft of Tujunga Little League’s artificial turf can call Foothill Community Police Station at (818) 756-8861.

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