Orange County sheriff's deputies on Monday surprised a class of special needs students whose hopes for a pumpkin patch were dashed by vandals last month.
When the deputies from the Rancho Santa Margarita station heard about the vandalism of the Robinson Elementary School students' still-developing pumpkin patch in mid-September, they passed the hat around and collected enough money for 30 pumpkins for the 22 students and a handful of teachers, said Carrie Braun of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
At the beginning of the summer, their teacher planted pumpkin seeds in the garden so the children could tend to them and watch them grow, Braun said.
Two juveniles broke into the school one night and "they trashed the entire garden," Braun said. "They ripped the vines out, hung everything around the fenced-in garden area."
Deputy Calvin Silva, the school resource officer, took the report and when he realized how heartbroken the teachers and students were he led a fundraising drive.
"He decided he would do his best to replace the pumpkins for them," Braun said. "He surprised them this morning with a pumpkin patch."
The students were able to pick out the pumpkins they wanted.
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Two juveniles have been identified as suspects in the pumpkin patch vandalism and the investigation is ongoing, Braun said.