The community center lost a computer and about $500 after a break-in earlier this month

LINDSAY KEEFER - Rosemary Smith (center), a longtime volunteer with Meals on Wheels, serves lunch to seniors at the Mount Angel Community Center.
While a break-in at the Mount Angel Community Center earlier this month shook its volunteers and citizens, it also triggered an enthusiastic push to bring in donations to support the more than 100 seniors who benefit from the nonprofit.

On Nov. 8, the downtown center, which was first opened in the mid-1970s, was reportedly burglarized. The suspect or suspects made off with a computer and about $500 in cash.

"They probably were not aware that the funds they took were to provide much-needed food, friendship and welfare checks to our own shut-in friends and neighbors," a letter from the board to its constituents read. "We have assessed the overall damage and honestly are struggling to rebuild what was taken."

Although the board was already planning to ask the community for support on Giving Tuesday, the Tuesday following Thanksgiving in which consumers are encouraged to spend money on a charity, the break-in prompted an even more urgent need to replace what has been lost.

Director Robin Bochsler said the money benefits everything from the seniors who sell crafts in the consignment shop to twice-weekly meals to the food bank, which has served 168 families (307 adults and 222 children) this year.

Additionally, stealing the computer has made it more difficult to write announcements, do the budget and organize sales for the consignment shop.

"Anybody over 50 can bring in crafts and goods to sell them," Bochsler explained. "They get a percentage and we get percentage, and that helps keep our doors open."

Meals on Wheels organizers also have used the computer for organizing and tracking deliveries. Their meals are also served at the center Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to noon (a $3 donation is suggested).

"Especially now, in the holiday and chilly seasons, where the needs for Meals on Wheels, food bank and local hot community meals grow, it is even more difficult to provide these vital local services to our fellow neighbors and friends without these tools," the board's letter continued. "In this time of thankfulness and giving, we humbly ask that if you are led to help us rebuild in some small way, it would be felt throughout the community."

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"We probably have 35 regular volunteers," Bochsler said. "There are probably over 100 seniors served."

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