Company steps up to help after burglars steal church bells

STANWOOD, Wash. -- A church in the community of Stanwood was struggling with the holiday blues after a thief stole the congregation's expensive set of custom handbells.

The holidays are now looking brighter after the Problem Solvers stepped in to help.

"You have to have all the bells to make music," said Pastor Daniel Sailer. "People like the clear, kind of crisp, pure sound of the bells. It's a different kind of sound than you hear with any other instrument."

Pastor Sailer says a burglar jimmied a door and got into one of the store rooms at Stanwood United Methodist Church earlier this month.

The crook made off with sixty of the church bell choir's 85 handbells. It was a loss of nearly $20,000, and it would make performing the congregation's holiday concerts impossible.

"Members of the bell choir were crying when they found out," Sailer said.

Though the bells are insured, the congregation learned it would take three months for the factory to make and deliver replacements. So the Problem Solvers put a call into the president of Schulmerich Bells company in Pennsylvania.

"When we found out this church had been burgled and had their bells stolen, we immediately started trying to figure out what we could do to help," said Jonathan Goldstein. "We thought, well ,what if we can get these folks their bells as fast as possible."

Goldstein told the Problem Solvers his company can get the replacements to Stanwood United Methodist Church by the end of this month. In a conference call with the Problem Solvers, he brainstormed with his marketing and production executives and came up with a solution.

"We could move them to the head of the production cue, and that's what we did," he said.

Schulmerich Bells is one of just three company's in the world that makes handbells. The process is as much an art as it is a science. Each set of bells has a unique sound, bell makers say, like a human voice. Goldstein says he's delighted to help spread the joy of handbell music to the world.

"We want members of this church to celebrate and enjoy the holidays. We're happy to help make them whole again," he said.

Pastor Sailer walked from the sanctuary to the office to tell one of the veteran bell choir members the good news.

"The bells, all of them, are going to be here by Christmas so we can have the concerts," he told Martha Sanders.

"Wahoo!" she hollered out. "That is great. Thank you so much."