COOLIDGE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Open Hands Outreach, which runs the Coolidge food pantry, is scrambling to get ready for monthly distributions and the holidays after someone broke in and stole $3,000 worth of items.
"We've been working diligently to get ready for the Friday distribution which is tomorrow and we'll have as many as, probably about, 150 families tomorrow, and that'll take most of this," Tom Hunt, the director of Open Hands Outreach, said.
Hunt found the door kicked in last Friday morning and noticed the empty shelves and various missing items.
"There was a pop-up canopy and that was taken and there were some folding tables that were taken," Hunt explained. "We had a box of hygiene products on the floor and that shelf was loaded so they cleaned that out. These are hygiene packages that go to the desert, like 200 monthly that go there."
Three turkeys and three pork shoulders were also stolen from the freezers, as well as loads of canned goods.
"They had to have someone waiting here because they took a lot of stuff."
The food pantry distributes goods to hundreds of families and several groups three times each month, and the month of November is already a difficult month.
"It is devastating when you first hear the impact of it but the community has helped support us to get through this weekend," Hunt said.
One man wrote a $300 check for the pantry. Another woman from Chandler came down to donate bags of food with her parents.
"I felt as though it was my obligation to participate in getting back to the community," Diane Nelson said. "Bare shelves for me, it means it's missed opportunities for families to have full meals, for children that are in need. It's the community coming together as a whole."
Despite the bind that the food pantry is now in, Hunt said they wish no ill-will on the people who did this.
"We want these people to pay the price in some way. In other words we're looking for community service and we pray for them to fill their void in a different way in the future," Hunt said.
Coolidge police are investigating the robbery. They say so far they do not know how many people were involved.