NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Heartless thieves stole school supplies from children in need at a Westchester County charity planning a free backpack giveaway this past weekend.
As CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported exclusively Wednesday, organizers at Hope Community Services on Washington Avenue in New Rochelle said an estimated $10,000 worth of backpacks, calculators and other donated supplies were taken during a break Monday night.
Now, organizers fear they will not have enough for the kids who really need them.
Volunteers at the organization were busy putting everything students needed for the first day of school into backpacks late Wednesday, but a lot was missing after the theft.
“This whole area that’s empty now; was filled with backpacks about up to here,” said Hope Community Services executive director Carole Troum.
Troum said thieves made off with about 250 backpacks that were already loaded with everything from notebooks and paper to pens and pencils, as well as rulers, school glue and erasers for up to 2,000 children in the New Rochelle public schools whose families qualify financially.
“I’m outraged,” Troum said. “I’m absolutely outraged, and I’m saddened — terribly saddened and disappointed.”
New Rochelle police were on the scene Wednesday afternoon and confirmed they were investigating.
The suspects apparently broke in through a back door that now has a huge chain securing it. They came down the steps and somehow made off with their haul worth about $10,000 – all of it donated by local churches, families and businesses.
“It’s horrible,” said volunteer Robert Lightfoot. “It is horrible.”
On Monday, Lightfoot helped back the book bags that were stolen hours later. He works at a car dealership that has been assisting the nonprofit for years, and he has even handed the supplies out to kids at the annual event.
“They’re overjoyed. You know, they see you’ve got backpacks. They had really nice ones with Spiderman and everything else,” he said. “Hopefully, there will be good people out there that will help try to get the kids their backpacks.”
The giveaway is set for this Saturday at New Rochelle Town Hall and will be hosted by former Yankees great Mariano Rivera.
Right now, the group is about 1,000 backpacks short of its goal, but is hoping for a miracle in the next couple of days.
If you would like to help Hope Community Services and the needy kids, here is the information you need:
Hope Community Services
50 Washington Ave.
New Rochelle, NY 10801