Just when blue, sunny skies were persuading lakeshore owners to install their boat docks, Bud Anderson discovered his aluminum dock stolen from his lot on Lake Latoka.
“I remembered exactly where I put it,” said the retired Veterans Affairs nurse. “But it was gone.”
He reported it to the sheriff’s office, checked with neighbors, and told his granddaughter, Molly Anderson, who asked if she could post it on Facebook.
He said yes, so she vented her frustration on Facebook Marketplace with a message to the thieves: “Congratulations u successfully stole a dock from an elderly couple and have robbed my child of her favorite swimming and fishing spot!”
Molly was unprepared for a response she got from Dustin Allen, owner of Alexandria DockWorks & Marine.
“I heard what happened,” Allen wrote to her. “That is really sad. But there is still good people in this town.”
Allen, together with Andrew Thole of Osakis, owner of Affordable Services, and a couple of anonymous donations from the Andersons’ neighbors, found a good used steel dock. They shared the cost, and Allen and his crew installed it on Friday, May 15 and will also install it again next year at no cost.
The Andersons said the dock is better than the stolen one, as this one has a bench to sit on.
Anderson said he offered to pay Allen for the dock, but Allen refused. So Anderson called the Echo Press, hoping to shine a spotlight on the kindness offered during a challenging time facing society.
The Andersons didn’t know Allen or Thole.
But readers might remember Dustin Allen from a 2018 incident when a van ran over a 2-year-old girl at Chippewa Park. He and his brother, Casey Skinner, experienced a surge of adrenaline and lifted the van off the girl.
Allen said he thrives on helping people, and was especially pleased to help Anderson, who served four years in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. When he saw the Facebook post about the stolen dock, and about Allen’s granddaughter, he immediately thought of his own four kids and how much they cherish their lake outings.
“I wish I could hug you,” said Molly, offering an air hug to Allen while maintaining social distancing. Later, she said, “We’re so surrounded by coronavirus. This is such a bright spot.”
Lest you think Allen, his crew and Thole are the only helpful people in this story, think again.
The Andersons’ neighbor, Margaret Wieker, divulged what the Andersons themselves would not share: They help others a lot, including the food shelf, and they did foster care for years.
“They’re the most giving, amazing neighbors,” she said, after watching the dock get installed. “The day we moved in, we were taking down trees and they came over and helped us.If you believe in karma, this is it, because all the good karma is coming back to them.”
The good neighborliness does not end there.
As Wieker walked home, she called to the Andersons that she would soon bring over their flowers.
Ruth Anderson, Bud’s wife, said Wieker has helped them with their gardening, provided flowers and even brought over a large pot to create a focal point for one bed.
“She is a wonderful neighbor,” Ruth Anderson said.