NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A charity in Westchester County was dealt a tough blow earlier this week when someone stole 250 backpacks with school supplies for needy kids, but on Saturday the story had a happy ending.

As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, backpacks were tossed into a big heap in the Refuge of Hope Church parking lot in New Rochelle.

Just in time for school, children got donated backpacks loaded with school supplies.

Heartless thieves used a crowbar to break into the back door of the organization’s offices Monday night, stealing 250 backpacks.

For organizer Carole Troum, replacing all that was stolen would cost $10,000 and volunteers would have to toil to get them ready in time to hand out Saturday.

“We weren’t sure we were going to be able to pull it off,” she said. 

The criminals left the organization two options: Tell some of the kids who need the backpacks they’re out of luck, or scramble to replace both the bags and the supplies. So they scrambled.

The community rallied with checks and cash.

“We’re about 100 bags more than were stolen,” Troum said. “Which is fantastic.”

She’s also grateful some star power stepped in. Baseball great Mariano Rivera was seen handing out backpacks, getting Yankees fans revved up to help.

“That brings us closer, that brings us tighter. The community stepped up and helped us,” he said.

Rivera’s wife is the church’s pastor, 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported.

“We want them to know they are important to us, because they are important to God,” he said. With our love, we need to reach them and bring them hope.”

“I think it’s really nice. I like pink, and it’s nice of them how they’re like preparing guys for school,” New Rochelle resident Masaya Everett said.

She wasn’t made aware of the extra effort that helped the event bounce back from the crime. She’s just glad for the gift so she enters the sixth grade prepared.


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