“The thief who broke into the dark blue Mazda Protege parked outside Grocery Outlet in Eureka this week might have known they were stealing a little girl’s backpack,” Kaci Poor reports for The Times-Standard.

“What they probably didn’t know when they slim-jimmed the door and grabbed the purple bag covered in butterflies, is that they were also stealing Teira Manfredda’s voice — a voice she worked hard to earn,” Poor reports. “Teira was born with a chromosome deletion that mimics autism, her mother Colleen Leydecker said. The disorder –called Phelan-McDermid syndrome — interferes with Teira’s ability to communicate verbally.”

Poor reports, “Inside Teira’s stolen backpack was an iPad, used by the 11-year-old to communicate with the world through an application called Scene&Heard [US$49.99]. Leydecker said Teira’s vocabulary expanded from about 150 words to close to 350 with the application… Debbie Bettencourt said her daughter and son-in-law were devastated to learn their daughter’s iPad had been stolen, especially after all of the work Teira put in to earn it. ‘Teira had only just gotten the iPad after selling over 3,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies,’ Bettencourt said… The entire community rallied around Teira when she was selling her cookies, Johanson said. She hopes that will happen again now. ‘It was really the community that gave her this gift,” she said. “I am really hoping that it will be the community that can help get it back.'”

“For more information on how to help or to make a donation, Colleen Leydecker can be contacted at [707] 502-7171,” Poor reports. “If discovered, the backpack can be dropped off — no questions asked — at the local Girl Scouts of Northern California office, 3203 T St. in Eureka.”

Read more in the full article here.