Tonawanda News — TOWN OF TONAWANDA — Organizers of the Ken-Ton Closet said hundreds of dollars worth of back-to-school supplies were stolen from their center in the town’s Sheridan Parkside building.
Jill O’Malley, the director of the organization, said their room in the building was accessed sometime between Thursday afternoon and Tuesday morning, when a volunteer discovered what had happened.
“I got a call at work from one our volunteers, she thought it was a mess ... it sounded like a lot of people had been in the room,” O’Malley said.
About 40 backpacks, along with other more inexpensive items, like crayons, markers, and toothpaste, were taken. All of the materials were meant to be distributed to needy kids in the Ken-Ton School District before the start of school next week.
“They emptied the cupboards of what they didn’t take and threw it onto the floor, and dumped out boxes of clothing,” O’Malley wrote on the group’s Facebook page.
The organization, which was created in January to collect clothing and other items for needy children in the district, hasn’t reported the thefts to police, Town of Tonawanda Lt. Nick Bado said. O’Malley said because the supplies are everyday items, it would likely be difficult to determine who the perpetrators were.
There were no signs of forced entry and O’Malley said doors in a separate wing of the building that the Closet does not use were left open.
“We are just going to ensure our doors are locked, and make sure people don’t have access to it in the future,” she said.
The organization’s volunteers are hoping they can collect enough donations before the start of school next week. They are especially in need of backpacks, and were also wiped out of the following items: crayons, thick and thin markers, highlighters, index cards, pens, pencils, erasers, composition notebooks, glue, scissors and three-subject notebooks.
O’Malley said with the first day of school just around the corner, the school supply thefts are particularly troublesome because many stores’ back-to-school stocks already thinned out.
“Luckily most of the items are very inexpensive, but unfortunately this close to school might be difficult to get,” O’Malley said.
The Closet is hosting a cleanup in their room at 169 Sheridan Parkside from 1 to 3 p.m. Friday, and donations will be accepted at Bumblebeez Consignment and Children’s Boutique until Tuesday. Donations will also be accepted at the Kenmore Farmer’s Market Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
O’Malley explained that the organization was bothered by the thefts because all of the items are already free to those in need.
“We ask people to show ID only to prove they are town and village residents,” she wrote on Facebook. “We don’t record names, or ask people to fill out paperwork or prove financial need. We believe most of the stuff taken was new so it could be returned to the stores.”
O’Malley said they have notified local stores to keep an eye out for large returns.
Contact reporterJessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter @JessicaLBagley