DUPO, ILL. - A Dupo, Ill. charity’s goal is to help people in need. But recently, it’s finding itself in need of help. The organization has fallen victim to theft, and the crime is costing it money and time.
The small charity was started by two sisters. They call themselves “Moms on a Mission.”
“Our goal is to help as many people as we can in as many ways as we can,” said the organization’s President and co-founder, Dawn Putnam.
Dawn and her sister started by making trips to downtown St. Louis to help the homeless. Now, their effort has grown to also include a thrift store and food pantry. Everything in their store costs 25 cents. But if the shopper can't pay, there’s no charge. They only ask that shoppers come to receive donations while they are open. But recently, people haven't been obeying the rules, or the ‘No Trespassing’ signs posted around the building.
“It led to us having to save money to get a surveillance system,” said Putnam.
That system caught the most recent culprit coming to comb through donations that had been dropped off after hours.
“It was thrown all over, there were things that were dug through,” said Putnam.
It is a common scene for volunteers who arrive in the morning to find missing and ruined donations, and a huge mess to clean up. In one instance, thieves left a literal mound of trash.
“They literally dumped the trash out of the trash cans and stole the trash cans,” said Putnam.
So, the group is asking for help in finding those who are helping themselves. Their cameras caught one truck in their lot twice in one night.
“Our problem isn't that they're taking things. That's what we're all about. If you come here when we're open we will give you the items if you need them, that's not the problem,” said Putnam.
The problem, they say, are those who take, who aren't in need. They even have reports of people gathering items for garage sales, leaving a mess behind.
“It’s just frustrating sometimes, is all,” said Putnam.
The charity would like to get a lockbox for donations or a fence around the building, but it doesn't have the funds at this point. The St. Clair County Sheriff's Department is investigating the case.
If you would like to help, the charity has an online donation site set up.
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