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Grinch can't steal Christmas spirit - Forsyth native ‘overwhelmed’ by community response after theft of Nativity scene
01062023 NATIVITY
Family members said a Nativity scene was recently stolen from a south Forsyth home where it had been displayed for more than 30 years. - photo by Photo submitted

A Forsyth County native said she has been overwhelmed by the community’s support after a Nativity scene was recently stolen from her father’s house.

Melinda Anderson Havens, who now resides in Lubbock, Texas, said a Nativity set that had been in her family for more than 30 years was recently stolen from her father’s home off Buford Highway in south Forsyth.

“He’s been setting up that nativity scene for over 30 years, we calculated up,” Havens said. “It’s the same scene that’s been set up every year. We’ve repainted them, refurbished them in any way that they need, bought new timers, got everything set up.”

Havens said the theft occurred late on Sunday, Jan. 1 or early on Monday, Jan. 2 and she found out after her father called her and “was just devastated.”

“He said, ‘Someone came after 9 p.m. last night and stole every piece of it out of my front yard,” she said.

After her father reported the items missing to police, Havens took to social media to explain what happened, which caught the attention of neighbors in the area.

“They have started, on their own, a fund to replace this for my dad,” she said. “Dad doesn’t want any monetary donations, he won’t accept money, but I told him, ‘Daddy, these people love you and they love your set,” and just the outpouring of love from everybody [has been moving.]

“Long story short, the community has come in, and they’ve already got 15 pieces replaced for part of it. It’s not going to replace all of it, but it’s a start.”

Havens said the set holds sentimental value and recalls the “blood, sweat and tears” of setting them up each year and making needed repairs such as painting, new wiring and more.

“I remember as a kid, I was 8 years old, dragging those pallets… up the hill just to set this manger scene up,” Havens said.

Living states away from her father, Havens said the experience has made her thankful for those living in Forsyth County.

“I’m just overwhelmed by the community rallying together to replace this and really wanting to help and keep the nativity scene going. It’s just priceless and also makes me feel secure knowing that Dad is there and I’m not right there at his fingertips, but if Dad needs anything, I could call and of them and they would be there to help him.”

Havens also had a message for the alleged thief.

“Whoever took it, if it was a joke, if it was kids, we don’t mind,” she said, “but we would just love to have the set returned.”