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Good Samaritans help Carlinville non-profit hit by Christmas crooks

"It's so amazing to see how the community has turned this negative situation into a positive experience," said Debi Lyons.

CARLINVILLE, Ill. — It's two weeks before Christmas and a greedy Grinch has committed a cruel crime at the Macoupin Center for the Developmentally Disabled in Carlinville, Illinois.

The small community of about 5,600 people is about six miles north of St. Louis.

"It was a messy situation. The building was was not as we left it," said Director and teacher Debi Lyons.

During the wee hours of last Thursday, Lyons said the cold-hearted crook or crooks trekked into their secluded neighborhood and broke into their building.

"It's hard because this is a safe place for our students and our staff," added Lyons.

The thief stole clothing, electronics, students' personal items and even food from a refrigerator.

"I went into the kitchen and that's when I saw some of the food missing," said Debi Lyons.

"How dare somebody do this. How dare they do this to our students," said Kimberly Wing, a Development Coordinator at the non-profit center.

For 65 years, the non-profit has provided a variety of services to men and women with developmental challenges in Macoupin County.

Currently, their 20 students range from 18 to 79 years old.

"We're big on our academics. We have three classrooms currently and they're broken into low-, moderate- and high-functioning," said Debi Lyons.

"Our students are the best and for somebody to break into our building is just disheartening," said Kimberly Wing.

The burglar or burglars also ripped off a screen on a lower level window.

Right now, it's still unclear how the culprit or culprits got inside. A place that still promises to give its students a merry Christmas.

It's all thanks to good Samaritans who, hours after the pre-Christmas crime, opened their hearts and wallets.

"Donations are still starting to come in. All of the food items have been replaced at this time. The electronics have been replaced and even the students' belongings. Yes, I would say that is the true meaning of Christmas, " added the center's director with a huge smile.

The small non-profit still needs help with funding and as it tries to purchase a security system.

Anyone who wants to help them out can call (217) 854-3473.