Donors rally to help veterans group after theft of portable toilet

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GREENFIELD — Tom Miller was baffled.

The portable toilet at Forty and Eight Voiture Locale 1415, a charitable honor society of U.S. military veterans, had been stolen.

“Who does that?” said Miller, a Forty and Eight member, commander-elect of American Legion Post 119 and a U.S. Army veteran.

Miller soon went from baffled to dismayed. The local Forty and Eight hadn’t even had the portable toilet for a year yet. Now, the chapter, whose property at 2344 S. County Road 275E lacks plumbing, had just one older portable toilet to offer guests ahead of its annual flag disposal ceremony next month.

But after a few videos posted to social media and the response from local and surrounding communities, Miller’s dismay didn’t last for long.

Miller said the local Forty and Eight first realized the portable toilet was missing about 10 days ago. After reaching out to members with access to the property, the organization determined it had been stolen.

“It was really disheartening for me to find out that somebody had stolen this from us,” Miller said.

The organization uses the property for its events and rents it out to the public at a low cost, he continued. He was discouraged by the thought of people having to leave events early because of a need to use a restroom.

While one portable toilet remains on the property, it’s an older fiberglass model that’s not in the greatest shape, Miller said. He and the late Brad Gray contributed the funds for the newer one that was recently taken.

Miller said the Forty and Eight is expecting a good crowd next month for its annual flag disposal ceremony, during which members will carry out the formal process of burning around 3,000 retired American flags.

Last Friday, Miller posted live videos to Facebook sharing news of the suspected theft. He said he immediately started receiving phone calls and messages.

By the end of the day, not only was the Forty and Eight able to secure a replacement for the stolen portable toilet, but the group was able to get one that was handicap-accessible. New Castle-based Hudson Rental and Sales offered to sell a used model for $800, Miller said. New ones go for around $1,500, he added.

A donor who wishes to remain anonymous contributed $500 to the cause, Miller continued. Greenfield’s VFW chipped in $200, and the city’s veterans honor guard came through with the remaining $100.

Bob Workman, commander of the honor guard, said the organization was happy to assist.

“Veterans in this community help other veterans,” Workman said. “…Whenever veterans need help, we’re here to do what we can do.”

It was just one of several portable toilets the Forty and Eight secured that day. Miller said a disposal service out of Indianapolis donated one and Fisk Waste Removal in Greenfield donated three.

He said the outpouring of support left him ecstatic.

“To most people, it may sound a little silly, but this is very important to me and a lot of other veterans,” Miller said.

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WHAT: Flag Disposal Ceremony

WHEN: 5:30 p.m. Saturday, June 15

WHERE: "La Place" Rec Area, 2344 S. County Road 275E, Greenfield