JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After three break-ins in two weeks, one after-school program in Northwest Jacksonville is trying to move forward without $3,000 in equipment and a limited budget.
Metro Kids Konnection has been helping children in the Cleveland Arms Apartments and those nearby for more than 20 years. It's an area often known for being high in crime, but those who work for the program say it's something they've never dealt with.
Workers say they believe they know who the thief is -- someone from the community who they've tried to help.
Despite what's happened, they're pushing forward helping kids in the community.
Pastor Terry Lane said that this week the thieves raided his office, taking two computers, a flat-screen TV, his security system monitor and a PlayStation.
"I've walked in and the energy just drained out of me, you know, because it's tough to get this stuff, and the children depend on it so much and I depend on it," Lane said.
Every day, Lane and his staff pick up kids from three different schools and bring them to their building.
Now instead of homework and research, the staff here is finding other things to keep the students busy because the thieves made off with their computers and another TV during an earlier break-in.
"It doesn't shock the kids," Lane said. "If this is your community, this isn't the first time that they've seen this."
"It also cuts deep when you know it's people that you've actually helped before and put them in the apartment, got their children clothes," Lane added.
Now he and volunteer Patrina Reid are making sure the kids there are staying focused, and they are staying prayerful.
"I distract their minds off of that, let's polish nails today girls," Reid said. "You know, we're doing toenails today, just make it fun for them to get them off of that because that shouldn't be their problem."
"I just wait for the need to be exposed and wait for the Lord to provide that through people that love the Lord and love their children," Lane said.
Lane said someone from his church heard about what happened and boarded up the broken windows and fixed a flat tire on his truck.