Thieves steal items intended for children from Merced non-profit

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- A non-profit in Merced is dealing with a difficult loss after someone broke into a storage container and stole dozens of items intended for local children.

Monika Grasley is the executive director of Lifeline Community Development Corporation. She made a devastating discovery Sunday morning when she opened the storage container in North Merced where the organization keeps many of the items it uses to serve local families. She saw light coming in from a hole in the back of the pod.

Grasley explains, "Somebody had drilled a hole in the back and came in through the backside and then just ransacked through a bunch of things."

Several items were stolen, including 30 of the 40 backpacks donated by a local book club, which were full of supplies. They were supposed to be given to children as a reward for an after school reading program the non-profit runs.

Grasley says, "Lifeline is about empowering folks, and it's not about handouts, so we don't usually hand out free stuff, but what we do is we have kids earn backpacks."

A couple of computers were also taken, along with office supplies and tools that are used for gardens at Lifeline's two community centers. It also appears someone tried to start a fire on the floor of the unit.

Grasley says, "Seeing that someone tried to set fire in there was heart-wrenching for me because we're trying very hard to improve the community, and probably the folks that did that we are taking care of their kids, or some non-profit is taking care of their children at this point.

Grasley says she has empathy for people who are going through hard times because she was homeless once. Her organization provides a variety of services to help those in need and hires many of its staff through the state's "Welfare-to-Work" program. She hopes whoever is responsible for this burglary will be held accountable in a way that makes an impact.

"I would hope the person gets to do community service with us, so they get to experience what the resources are actually being used for," says Grasley.

The pod has now been patched up, but until the non-profit has a safer place to store its items, Grasley says monetary donations will be the most helpful. You can donate through the organization's website.

You can also text the word GIVE to 833-603-0442.
Copyright © 2020 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.