Local Community Steps Up After Back-to-School Supplies Stolen from Catholic Charities Office

By Robyn Kurth

A day after Catholic Charities of Central Florida’s Eastern Regional Office in Daytona Beach reported a break-in on the morning of August 5, members of the local community rallied to replace nearly $1200 worth of stolen food and back-to-school supplies intended for local children. Just as Jesus multiplied fish and bread loaves to feed the multitudes, local residents more than doubled the amount of money needed to purchase replacement items for the region’s neediest families.

By Robyn Kurth

A day after Catholic Charities of Central Florida’s Eastern Regional Office in Daytona Beach reported a break-in on the morning of August 5, members of the local community rallied to replace nearly $1200 worth of stolen food and back-to-school supplies intended for local children. Just as Jesus multiplied fish and bread loaves to feed the multitudes, local residents more than doubled the amount of money needed to purchase replacement items for the region’s neediest families.

According to Carol Podschelne, the case worker at CCCF’s Eastern Regional Office who discovered the break-in and filed the official police report, the community responded immediately to an article about the robbery published in the Saturday edition of the Daytona Beach News-Journal. Some donors phoned in pledges, another dropped a check in the collection basket at Epiphany parish in Port Orange, and at least two individuals stopped by the CCCF Eastern Regional Office to drop off cash donations.

“My cell phone started ringing at 8:00 a.m. Saturday morning and never stopped. The response was more than generous and more than touching and it restored my faith in human nature,” said Podschelne. “When you talk about blind faith multiplying the fishes—I was just in tears.”

The perpetrators broke in through an office window and stole 120 pounds of frozen chicken and 60 pounds of canned goods from the food pantry, as well as two bicycles and helmets, sneakers, school supplies, and seven brand new backpacks filled with clothing and other back-to-school items valued at $50 apiece.

Podschelne noted that as many as two dozen families were slated to receive these supplies, and that gently used donations were not taken. “The fact that they stole the new backpacks and new school supplies tells me that (the perpetrators) are going to try and resell the items.”

Podschelne had purchased many of the items herself at clearance sales as part of her own back-to-school program for the families she services. She had just completed filling the backpacks shortly before the overnight break-in occurred.

Arne Nelson, President and CEO of CCCF, expressed his gratitude that so many local citizens stepped up to assist the families that Catholic Charities serve. “I know that the Daytona Beach and East Volusia communities are generous, and we very much appreciate their very generous donations, as will the families we help,” he said.

Anyone who wishes to make a donation to replenish CCCF’s Eastern Regional Office food pantry and back-to-school supplies can contact Podschelne at 386-453-3508.

Kurth is the communications manager for the Diocese of Orlando.