COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Staff at a local non-profit said they’re heartbroken and disappointed after Stowe Mission’s warehouse was broken into and thousands of dollars of donations were stolen, including toys for their annual toy giveaway.
Stowe Mission’s headquarters sits along Parsons Avenue in Columbus and the non-profit’s donation warehouse right behind it, past the alley.
“Our toy giveaway is in five weeks so we’re gearing up for that we were getting a lot of donations for it,” said Executive Director Kelli Karlich. “A lot of those have now been taken so it was just sadness and disappointment.”
Karlich’s team came into work Wednesday and discovered the warehouse was ransacked and thousands of dollars worth of donations were gone.
Cameras on the building recorded what happened. Police are using this for the investigation.
“People were in and out of our warehouse for about five hours until our first staff person came in that morning,” she said describing the footage.
One of the most heartbreaking losses was the bikes in the warehouse. It’s an item that doesn’t get donated often. One room was filled with those bikes and now about half of them remain.
“A lot of it was bicycles and toys and diapers. We give away a lot of diapers, thousands of diapers every year so it was just disappointment that we’re here to serve the community, and people took advantage of that and broke in and took those things.”
Karlich explained Thursday morning, they discovered another break-in attempt, and fortunately, nothing was taken. She emailed donors and shared what happened on social media.
Even though the items were taken from Stowe Mission, Karlich says it was truly stolen from the community.
“People just offering prayer, offering to donate, asking us what we need how they can best help, so it’s just been amazing to see that outpouring of support from the community.”
Since the break-in, donors have come back with more items for their ‘Toys of Hope Christmas Giveaway’. One person even offered to donate services for a new security system.
Last year, Stowe Mission gave toys to 608 kids in the area. Karlich hopes with the help of the community they can accomplish that again.
To learn more about the program and how you can help, click here.