A project that's been in the works for nearly 20 years may be put on hold because of thieves.
St. Augustine Youth Services is building a home for abused and neglected children. Over the weekend, organizers say thieves stole copper wiring from the construction site, setting them back about $10,000 in damage.
Workers said the thieves kicked in the door to the group home to get to the copper wiring.
"It was a little bit of a punch to the gut," said Schuyler Siefker, of St. Augustine Youth Services. "All of the money has been donated by the community, and somebody who donated the money for that, somebody had stole what we had purchased."
St. Augustine Youth Services was using the money to help build the group home for 30 boys of all ages.
"Many of them have had a traumatic event in their lives, and they need treatment to heal, and that's what we do, so we just need a bigger place to do it," Siefker said. "And so that has been our dream. Our motto is a path to a brighter future, and so that's what we're trying to do."
It's going to be much more difficult with this setback. Workers were planning on building a pool, playground and basketball court for the boys.
"All the money that we would hopefully be able to spend on the playground will now be for a security guard because of what has happened over the weekend," Siefker said.
The new group home, 18 years in the making, was set to open by Christmas so organizers can continue to lead abused and neglected boys to a brighter future.
"You hate to continually ask the community for support, especially in times when everyone's kind of struggling," Siefker said. "But we really, really need additional help, and unfortunately this robbery has made it even more so that we need help."
If you'd like to help St. Augustine Youth Services, call 904-829-1770 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.