IMPACT
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Outpouring Of Support From Seattle Community After Food Bank Burglary

As part of its Bearing Witness 2.0 project, the Huffington Post is rounding up a few of the best local stories of the day.

Last Tuesday night, the Rainer Valley Food Bank, in Seattle, Wash., was burglarized. Thieves broke into the storage container and took all the food they could, including hundreds of pounds of potatoes and dozens of crates of canned fruits, vegetable and soup, amounting to a total loss of about $2,000. The food was going to be distributed this week in Thanksgiving bundles.

The city erupted in rage and donations started pouring in. Individual people and businesses came by to drop off food and write checks. Walmart and local radio station 100.7 WOLF each dropped off a semi-truck's worth of food, a local produce market chain donated about $1,000 worth of fruits and vegetables and a restaurant launched a food drive to help out.

In the end, the food bank raised $70,000 in cash and $30,000 worth of food. That's far more than it knows what to do with -- or can store -- and it is going to be distributing the food to neighboring organizations that need help. "If anybody needs to pick up something," said director Sam Osborne, "we have plenty." Their only problem now: sorting through everything.

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A burglar stole electronic equipment, a laptop and microphones from a church in Clayton County, Ga., reports WBS-TV's Linda Stouffer. The thief broke in at night but left a note: "Sorry but I'm poor. Forgive me Lord."

"You always get aggravated with people stealing things," said pastor Roger Davis, "I don't know what kind of situation this person was in but maybe it's someone we need to reach." Neighbors were rendered speechless.

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Ten-year-old Jonathan Brende, in Independence, Mo., has a severe form of cerebral palsy, and needs constant care, reports Fox 4's, Rob Low. He is on Medicaid, but just barely: in order to stay covered by the federal plan, his father had to turn down a raise at work.

But his mother, Tonni, has Hepatitis C, which was ruled a pre-existing condition by her insurer, and hence not covered. "I got sicker because I couldn't afford to go to the doctor," she said, "I quit going when the insurance company quit paying and I saw how the bills were piling up." Because of her medical bills, the family filed for bankruptcy.

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Just a year and a half ago, Northern California's Shelter Network was fielding about 100 phone calls per week from people looking for homeless shelters. Last week that number was up 900 percent, according to Will Oremus, from the Bay Area Daily News. The high demand is causing some shelters to have the longest waiting lists they have ever had, and as the weather gets colder more homeless are looking to move indoors.

"Right now it's pretty cold outside," said Vickie, who declined to giver he last name. "To sleep in my car, I would be a popsicle." She is trying to stay healthy and warm while she finishes up her online classes at Eastern Oregon University.


HuffPost readers: Seen a compelling local story? Have a neighbor going to bizarre lengths to get through the recession? Tell us about it! Email jmhattem@gmail.com.

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