Churches, schools see generousity after break-ins

Although a half-dozen Bronx churches wexperienced robberies around Thanksgiving, the holidays have not been all bad for the parishes.

In the aftermath of the burglaries, the community has stepped up with donations and gifts to help replace what was stolen or broken. Lehman College Center for the Performing Arts even donated tickets to the children of Our Lady of Refuge School for its special holiday concert, after thieves stole several tickets, along with more than $1,000 in cash from the school.

“It’s a great feeling to get this kind off support,” said school principal, Marivel Colon. “This is what we teach our children about – helping each other. We’re a community and a family here. We help those in need, so it’s nice to know that they’re there when we need them as well.”

Along with the tickets and cash, the thieves stole two laptop computers, a scanner and a digital camera. Although not all the items have been replaced, with the donations – some as high as $1,000 – it may not be long before the students will be able to use the scanners, computers and camera that had been purchased recently to be used in the classroom.

“Students, parents and alumni are sending in money,” Colon said. “We had a third grader who came inand dropped off a dollar bill. She just broke my heart.”

Sister Mary Cleary, principal at Our Lady of Angels, said her school had a similar experience.

She came in to work a few days before Thanksgiving to find her office completely wrecked, and her computer and some cash missing.

“They broke the file draws in the cabinet outside the office, they broke the drawers in my cabinet. They took all the file folders belonging to the students and threw them all over the floor,” she said. “They also smashed my door in half.”

The school has been slowly replacing the broken items. Cleary estimated the damage at about $1,500.

“But people have been extremely generous to the school and helping us pay for this,” she said. “I was really amazed at the generosity of people. Some are complete strangers. I really feel this school has a very important place in this community, it does an excellent job educating and I think those that donated, realize the importance of the school and are doing everything they can to combat what took place.”

She said about 20 people have made a donation of either items or money – which she said is going right into the bank.

Police are still looking for the thieves, who also robbed St. Ann’s Church on Bainbridge Avenue, Kingsbridge Evangelical Lutheran Church on Bailey Avenue and St. John’s Church on Kingsbridge Avenue.

Anyone with information on the break-ins is asked to call CRIMESTOPPERS at 1-800-577-TIPS.

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