By Ed Brock
Somebody has stolen food meant for Clayton County's seniors who are struggling to care for their grandchildren.
The thieves who broke into the Kinship Care Resource Center on Tara Boulevard in Jonesboro cleaned the shelves of the food pantry and emptied a freezer full of meat.
"They left us our mincemeat pie filling," said Angela Burba who works at the center.
They took diapers and toys, even the ornaments off several artificial Christmas trees in the break in that center employee Bobbie Davis discovered Saturday evening.
"When I saw that my blood pressure just went up," Davis said. "We worked hard to collect all that."
The center is part of the Clayton County Aging Program. It exists to support a growing section of the senior population in which older people become the custodians of their young grandchildren for various reasons.
Some of these grandparents must survive on around $560 in money from Social Security payments and foodstamps.
"When the foodstamps run out and before the money comes back in, we're supplementing their groceries," Burba said.
Also, foodstamps don't pay for things like diapers and Christmas decorations.
The thieves apparently came from the apartment complex behind the center, tossing a rug over the barbed wire that tops a fence that surrounds the rear parking lot.
"They actually carried all those groceries over the fence," Burba said. "It would have taken me four days to drive all of this out of here."
Discarded sleeves for Ritz crackers indicated that the thieves had time to eat some of the goods as they carried out the crime while the center's staff was at a fundraiser. Food boxes and remnants of Christmas ornaments trail away into the complex.
Even more painful is the wastefulness of the thieves. They opened a box of ice cream cones, pulled some out and then just trampled them.
And oddly enough some of the people who took the food may have qualified for assistance from this or other programs, said Mindy French, program manager for the Clayton County Aging Program.
"If they came over here and said we need something we would have given it to them," French said.
It's unclear how the burglars got into the basement storage room, but the garage door that leads to it was unlocked when Davis discovered the break in.
But Clayton County police are going to heavily increase their patrols of the area, Assistant Police Chief Jeff Turner said.
"These people are probably going to come back," Turner said.
Meanwhile, the Kinship Center will need the community's help to restock its shelves.
"This program is funded, but it's not well funded," French said.
Call the center at (770) 477-3417 for information on making a donation.