Freezer stolen from non-profit that helps feed community

Freezer stolen from non-profit that helps feed community
The Way Director Brian Purcell said this freezer was stolen from his non-profit over the weekend

SANDSTON, VA (WWBT) - A Sandston non-profit that helps people in the community dealing with hunger, homelessness and addiction, needs help after their biggest freezer was stolen.

Minutes after 12 On Your Side aired the story about the stolen freezer, Henrico Union Lodge in Sandston contacted NBC12 to say they would be purchasing a freezer for the non-profit.

Wednesday morning The Way Director Brian Purcell said a man donated the freezer Thursday, but over the weekend it was snatched from outside the non-profit's headquarters.

"Friday I was spraying it all down [outside] to clean it, and then Saturday it rained," Purcell said. "We pulled up on Sunday morning to drop off some food and first thing I noticed was the freezer was gone and I thought an employee had cleaned it and took it inside for me… but noticed it wasn't there."

Purcell said he did not file a report with police because of a theory he had about the situation.

"I didn't want to drag the police into it because this person may have gone through something [and needed it]," Purcell said. "Truthfully if I were to find out who it is, I would want to ask them what we can do to [help him/her] not want to take from other people."

While the non-profit already has several freezers in use, Purcell said this particular unit that disappeared would have been the largest.

"It was pretty big, so it would have taken at least two people to move that," he said. "With the amount of space that we have sometimes we have to take food that came in three days ago and get rid of that as soon as possible to make room for the newer food," he said. "So more freezer space gives us more opportunities to keep food and help more people instead of having to throw food away."

Purcell added a freezer that size goes a long way towards feeding nearly 3,000 people every month.

He has even taken to social media, asking people in the community to keep an eye out for that stolen freezer or for help in getting a new one.

"We're a non-profit and every bit of money we get is enough to pay our bills to stay here, and to pay for our gas and things," he said.

"Just helping other people is really cool," said Jenny Johnson, a volunteer.

In the meantime, volunteers like Johnson said they will continue to make do with what they have.

Johnson added she's come a long way since she first got help from The Way in November.

"I was really shy and I didn't think I could do much," she said. "Now I'm driving a bus and making bags for the Seniors."

"We see people come in one way and by us pouring into them and wanting to see them better their lives, we've seen them completely different in just a few days or a few weeks of working with them," he said.

To donate to The Way, click here or call (804) 737-3300.

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