MILL CREEK — For the past four years, 11-year-old Nattalie Anderson has sold enough candy to pay for her summer camp.
Nattalie was the top seller for Camp Fire in Snohomish County in 2013 and 2014. She was working this year’s fundraiser on Wednesday when a stranger approached and pretended to inspect the candy.
“He asked what kind of candy we were selling,” Nattalie said. “I was telling him what kinds we had and then he stole the cash box and the troop money.
“I was scared,” she said. “It was surprising.”
About $85 was taken, said Nattalie’s stepmother, Maria Anderson, 31.
She and Nattalie had set up outside the Mill Creek Safeway just a half-hour before the theft.
The man, wearing a chartreuse sweatshirt, had ignored them when he walked into the store, she said. When he came back out, he grabbed the money and ran.
Maria Anderson chased after him to see if she could get a description on his car.
“By the time I got to the corner, he was gone,” she said.
On Thursday, store staff were looking for surveillance video to see if they had any images of the suspect’s face, Anderson said.
Nattalie’s in the sixth grade at Riverview Elementary in Snohomish. She’s an outspoken, active kid who likes adventure and plays the clarinet, Anderson said.
“She does Camp Fire so she can go to camp every year because she likes to hang out with all the other kids,” she said. “It’s her little summertime thing.”
Nattalie has to sell more than 1,300 boxes of candy — roughly 88 cases — to pay for a week of horsemanship lessons at Camp Killoqua near Lake Goodwin.
Her annual record is 1,311 boxes, said Meagan Farrell, candy sales coordinator for Camp Fire’s local office. In a Camp Fire news release earlier this week, Nattalie was quoted as saying, “The best way to be a successful seller is to work hard, focus, be creative, honest, and smile.”
Nattalie’s favorite of the candies are the mints. Her dad, Tyson, likes the Almond Roca.
Nattalie’s parents used to handle the cash box but she took over as she grew older and learned to make change. The adults always stay close, though.
When Anderson got back to the candy stand after chasing the suspect, she and Nattalie realized that without the cash box, they’d have to pack up for the day.
They filed a police report and are hopeful the store’s surveillance footage might show the man’s face, though he pulled up the hood of his sweatshirt during the crime.
What happened still is sinking in, Anderson said, but Nattalie was disappointed that she didn’t meet her daily target of 60 boxes.
Nattalie plans to continue her work outside the Tulalip Walmart from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday. The Camp Fire candy sale runs until Feb. 16.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; email@example.com.