Community responds after burglary threatens movie night

NAUGATUCK — The community answered a call for help loud and clear after money set aside for a family movie and pizza night was stolen from Grace Lutheran Church over the last weekend of July.

In late July, children from the Salem Community Child Care preschool held a bake sale to raise money for a family movie and pizza night. The children raised $411 and things were all set for the movie night.

On Aug. 1, employees of the church on Salem Street came into work to find that the building had been broken into during the night. Parish Administrator Tammee Gardiner said the plexiglass on the day care director’s door was broken. She said whoever broke into office rifled through the drawers where checks and the money the children had raised at the bake sale were kept. The $411 was the only thing stolen, she said.

“Really, who steals from a church,” Gardiner said.

With the money stolen, the day care couldn’t afford to rent the inflatable movie screen and the bouncy house, or even buy the pizza for the movie night planned.

Gardiner sent out an email to the church’s congregation and asked parishioners if they would be able to donate any money.

“I expected to maybe get $20 here and there. Maybe we would get enough donations to get them pizza,” Gardiner said.

However, the community responded in a big way.

In addition to the many parishioners who donated, the day care also received donations from community members and a pledged donation from Boy Scout Troop 115, which uses the church as a meeting place.

Just four days after the robbery, the day care had $500 in hand with more pledges still coming in, Gardiner said.

“It’s good to see. Especially after a rough Monday,” Gardiner said last week.

The family movie and pizza night is planned for Wednesday night.

Gardiner said any money raised above the cost of the family movie and pizza night will be put toward other activities for the children. Gardiner said the day care doesn’t know what those activities will be since it didn’t expect to have such an outpouring of donations.

The burglary remains under investigation. Deputy Police Chief Joshua Bernegger said last week detectives have interviewed people in relation to the case.

“We are certainly hoping for a speedy solve,” Bernegger said.

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