JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Community advocates are outraged after someone broke into storage containers and stole donations meant for Families of Slain Children, a nonprofit group that assists families of homicide victims.
The burglaries happened multiple times last week at the group’s Myrtle Avenue headquarters. Someone stole $1,000 worth of lawn equipment Monday and then returned Thursday to steal children’s clothes.
Surveillance cameras installed after Monday’s break-in caught the next burglaries on video. Footage shows a man on a bicycle make a beeline for the storage units and then ride away with the stolen goods.
“It hurts my heart because we call people and ask people for help, they help us and then someone just comes and takes it like it belongs to them,” said Beverly McClain, founder of Families of Slain Children.
Since the organization was founded in 2006, McClain – whose son Andre was killed in 2005 – and her volunteers have been helping families move forward after their loved ones are suddenly taken away. That includes providing resources and support, including material goods, to families in need.
Sadly, this is not the first time the organization has been hit by thieves, McClain said. She noted that in the past crooks have gotten away with the group’s air-conditioning unit and computers. But this case is particularly alarming because the items stolen were intended for children coping with tragedy.
Now, she said, she’s just praying the culprit is caught and brought to justice.
“It’s just unreal,” she said. “To take the children’s clothes, come on now. How low can you go?”
Despite what happened, Families of Slain Children will continue its mission of serving and helping families in our community. The group is accepting donations, but children's clothes are in demand.
"W are not going to let that deter us," McClain said. "We're going to keep moving."
To learn more about making a donation or volunteering your time, visit the group's website.