SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — With the red and yellow tulips in full bloom, kindergarten and first-grade girls pointed with pride to the flowerbed outside Field Elementary.
It was their doing. The 21 members of Daisy Scout Troop No. 60016 had pooled $250 from cookie sales last year to buy soil, mulch and plants.
They populated the neglected flowerbed near the school entrance with 100 tulip, daffodil and hyacinth bulbs, plus pansies, ferns and a pink flowering dogwood.
"We put the flowers in. The soil, it was hard to dig," said first-grader Olivia Shelton, 7. "It was like fun and hard. We were working together."
Then, vandals struck. The more than 60 tulips in bloom were yanked out of the ground and smashed. An azalea bush was ripped in half. Families showed up to school April 19 to find the parking lot and schoolyard strewn with uprooted hostas and pansies.
"I felt sad and mad because we all worked hard on it and it was destroyed," said first-grader Maddie Robb, 7. "I thought maybe it was some kid who was old, like a teenager, and didn't go to school here."
The girls were upset after the vandalism, but the troop had not yet met to figure out what to do when — just days later — they showed up at school to discover that anonymous do-gooders had replanted the garden.
"I cried on the walk home. That touched me more than the vandalism itself," said Heather Parker-Reece, one of three parent leaders of the troop. "It gives you hope."
No one has been accused of the vandalism, but Parker Buzbee, 7, knows exactly what she'd say to whoever did it: "You should always help nature and you should never destroy nature."
The sudden destruction — and resurrection — of the garden spurred many questions among the girls.
"My daughter was like, 'All the pretty flowers are gone, what happened?' They were so proud of their garden," said Debbie Sampson, a parent leader.
She said her daughter, Carly Sampson, was just coming to terms with what happened when she learned the garden had been rebuilt.
"One of the best lessons is the random act of kindness," she said.
The troop has participated in several projects, such as collecting donated coats, during the school year. But this project had special significance.
It was a way to give back to the school, where the troop meets.
They had carefully selected the flowerbed, which is close to the main school entrance and a side door students exit if they walk home. And they were involved in every aspect of the project.
"They all participated," said Robin Wagner, whose daughter Allison, 7, is in the troop. "They did almost all the work."
Each of the colorful petals on the Daisy Scout uniform has a specific theme. This project helped the girls work for the rose petal — to "make the world a better place."
"It's such a great lesson for the kids to know that even though somebody came in and did something bad, it makes such a difference when a person — anonymous or not — comes in and does something so good," Wagner said.