SPRING LAKE HEIGHTS — The theft of a cash register full of money from Christmas tree sales has turned positive for a Jersey Shore fire company, and perhaps some other organizations.

Assistant Chief Casey Williams of the Independence Fire Company No. 1 of Spring Lake Heights said that as word of the theft spread, several groups made donations to replace the $1,000 that disappeared last weekend.

"Most of them have asked to be anonymous," Williams said, adding that he doesn't have a tally of donations because they came in so fast.

Williams said at the time of the theft, the fire company was having a better year than last year raising money to go toward new equipment and maintenance of their building.

K-Valor Task Group, a new organization based in Jackson, donated $500 to the fire company. Co-founders Sue DesMarais and Jennifer Gallagher told the Shore News Network they felt compelled to donate as a way of paying it forward. DesMarais is a former police officer who has lost two homes to fires.

Williams said the groups that donated wanted to "help make things right" for a volunteer organization.

He said that the story is about to get some additional nationwide media attention that will likely bring more donations. But Williams said those who want to help should consider other organizations that could also use the money.

"We appreciate the outpouring of support. But we just want people to not sacrifice donations that could go to other worthy causes for our benefit. We just don't want to be taking away from plenty of other organizations out there that are fighting for money as well as we are," Williams said. "They shouldn't be giving it all to us because we had something bad happen to us. There's plenty of other places that could use the money too."

The fire company will be selling trees at the firehouse on 6th Avenue through Friday.

Police continue their investigation into the cash register theft and have not made any arrests.

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