TONAWANDA, N.Y. - It's bad enough when someone robs a charity. But to wipe out a charity that provides school supplies for needy children a week before school starts requires a special level of cruelty.
That's exactly what happened in one local community, which was left stunned by the news.
On a normal day, the Ken-Ton Closet, which is a small charity located inside a Town of Tonawanda community center, collects clothing, toiletries, and school supplies for district children in need.
But on Wednesday morning, the closet was turned upside down. Clothing was tossed everywhere. Burglars had emptied clean all of the shelves holding the school supplies, including 50 backpacks which were filled with supplies. All of this was discovered a week before school starts.
"I hope that they're aware of the lives that they impacted," Jill O'Malley, who founded the Ken-Ton Closet, said of the burglars. "I hope that, if they took those supplies,that they really actually needed them, and they are put in the hands of the people who need them because that's the spirit in which they donated for in the first place."
O'Malley told us it looks like the burglars came in through an open back door, and used the backpacks the stole to carry the supplies out. Because school starts next week, supplies tend to run low in stores, or they're more expensive.
"It's all volunteer-run. Nobody makes any money," O'Malley said. "People just donate out of the kindness of their heart. So I think I was mostly disappointed that somebody would actually do this and take away the resources that are needed for the children, who really don't have them."
Members of the community were so stunned that offers to help the Ken-Ton closet have come pouring in.
"We were very upset and surprised that someone would honestly do something to a community cause that's so important, " Bumblebeez Consignment owner Kara Cutler said.
Cutler has offered her shop at 906 Brighton Road in Tonawanda as a drop-off site for school supplies anyone wishes to donate. The donations will be collected through Tuesday (store hours are Tue 12-7, Thur 12-7, Fri 9-12, and Sat 9-2).
REPORTER: How important is it to get all of these given the timing and everything else.
CUTLER: Oh my gosh. It's very important. We'll be taking them -- as much as people will be willing to give and as soon as they're willing to get them in.
"Some good will come of us," O'Malley said. "More people are going to hear about the closest, and so maybe more kids in need will get the help they deserve."
In addition to Bumblebeez Consignment, people wishing to donate supplies can bring them to the Kenmore Farmer's market Saturday from 8am -12:30pm. We also learned State Senator Mark Grisanti, who represents the Ken-Ton area, will be donating a large amount of supplies this week, paid for out of his own pocket, he said.