WIVB-TV: After Theft, Many Donate School Supplies

Mark Grisanti

September 03, 2013

TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) - Western New Yorkers are making sure students in need don't head back to class empty handed after school supplies were stolen from a charity shop in the Town of Tonawanda.

Families were among the donors bringing in bags of clothing and school supplies to make up for what thieves stole from Ken-Ton Closet this week. Shelves had been emptied out and bags of clothing ripped open at Sheridan Parkside Community Center location.

Tonawanda resident Gennie Vitko said, "A lot of our friends were upset and willing to help, and I said well drop it off at my house or I'll come and pick it up and be happy to drop it off for them."

"I know that people need the materials for school and all that, and like, they can't afford it and so we gave some stuff," added Tonawanda resident Rachel Vitko.

State Senator Mark Grisanti and Walmart split the cost of 40 backpacks filled with supplies.

"It's a good day. It's a wonderful ending to a bad beginning," Sen. Grisanti said.

Walmart store manager Rick Tagliarino added, "It'a shame, and school's just getting ready to start, and so that's why everybody had to kind of pull together pretty quickly to make this happen."

Univera Health teamed up with other companies to donate 48 filled backpacks.

Spokesman Olivia Belter said, "We just felt like we just can't let this go by without doing something to help."

Clothing and supplies from hundreds of donors are now being sorted out by dozens of volunteers.

Ken-Ton Closet director Jill O'Malley said, "It's been overwhelming. Last couple of days have been overwhelming."

Her service for needy families opened shop in March and has been very busy. And though many items were stolen, WNYers have more than made up for all of the missing school supplies.