St. Joseph Catholic Church parishioners want their flamingos back, and the culprit will be offered immunity if they're returned soon.
A flamingo fundraiser to support young people going to World Youth Day in Brazil this summer was thwarted last week when an entire "flock" of pink, plastic birds vanished from the yard of Hambuchen Home Furnishings in Conway overnight.
Holly Hambuchen, one of 13 going on the trip to Rio de Janeiro, explained the group settled on flocking as a method to raise money for the church mission and education trip.
Flocking, she said, is the term used to describe an overnight appearance of pink flamingos in a residential or business yard.
The group receives a donation to "flock a friend," and once flocked, the friend can opt to have the birds picked up by the group or continue on by flocking another individual.
To go on the trip, the group needs to raise another $10,000 by March 15.
"Wednesday morning my dad called and asked if he had gotten flocked. He had a sign on his door, but no flamingos," Hambuchen said. "We were pretty upset. We don't know why anyone would do that. They're a little expensive. It's funny, but at the same time, frustrating."
Hambuchen said it was the "super flock" that apparently was stolen. The top flock of 60 birds cost the group $230.
"We've made up for that amount with who we've flocked so far. We'll continue to flock. We've ordered some more flamingos, cheaper ones this time," she said.
St. Joseph's Father James Melnick said the group needs the flamingos to fill flocking orders placed before the super flock was stolen.
"We'd like our flamingos back so we can get our fundraising done. We're happy to share, but we really need them back," Melnick said. "I don't know what someone's doing with 60 flamingos. Get a life, right?"
Melnick said he hopes the culprit will bring the birds to the church. He said he'd like to know who took them, but "the fundraiser is the main concern."
"Just put them in a box and put them out in front of the church any time. We'll pick them up," he said.
To help this group raise money, contact Tessie Guillory at 501-944-0121 for flocking information. Send donations to St. Joseph Catholic Church/ World Youth Day.