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YouthBuild seeking help after burglary

ELKINS — Even though many of the tools that were stolen from YouthBuild North Central during a theft at its Highland Park facility last month have been recovered or replaced, thanks to various donors, the non-profit organization is still faced with a dilemma.

That’s because tools weren’t the only thing that was taken when the facility was targeted. Also stolen was something vital to YouthBuild’s day-to-day operations, a 2013 Ford Escape, which had proven to be invaluable to the center.

“Right now we are just kind of stuck,” said YouthBuild North Central Program Director Michelle Phares. “We used that vehicle to go to all of the job sites and we used it to do a lot of community service. Because we no longer have that vehicle, we’re not able to do a lot of things that we would be doing.”

Taking students to counseling, doctor’s appointments and job interviews were among the vehicle’s uses. Phares said the vehicle had been in very good shape.

The Ford Escape was recovered in Taylor County earlier this month after being wrecked and abandoned in Harrison County.

“I guess it was damaged so bad that they had to drag it for miles to the garage,” she said.

The damage was so severe to the Escape that it will likely be deemed a total loss, she seemed. The center did have insurance on the SUV, but the timetable of getting a replacement — and finding a vehicle as dependable as the one that was stolen — is difficult to predict.

“Our insurance hasn’t even started looking at it yet,” said Phares. “Our company is out of Pennsylvania and they’re going to send someone to come and pick it up, eventually. So I really don’t know where it goes from there and how long the process is going to take.”

Phares said YouthBuild is currently having to use employees’ personal vehicles to make do.

“We are using personal vehicles, which we are not supposed to do, but we have to get people where they need to go,” she said.

The Randolph County Sheriff’s Department recovered some of the tools during an arrest earlier this month, while the rest was replaced through donations from those in the community.

Local citizens Kathy Vance and Morris Guy Kittle each donated tools to the organization, while J.R. Tate, from tool distributor Stanley Health, also lended a helping hand by donating $635 worth of new items.

At the time of the theft Elkins Mayor Van Broughton offered a reward for information on the theft and Rhett Dusenbury, district representative for Congressman Alex Mooney, contacted Busy Beaver in Elkins, requesting that they make a donation to YouthBuild. Busy Beaver said it will donate tool belts to YouthBuild grads.

“We have had a ton of support from the community,” said Phares. “It’s awful what happened, but it’s really incredible how this community has reached out to us. We want to thank each and every one of them for the support.”

Anyone wishing to make a donation to YouthBuild may contact the center by phone at 304-637-9008, or by email at youthbuild@rchawv.org.

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