Donors help St. Paul charity after burglary

Money donated after St. Paul charity burglarized

ST. PAUL, Minn. – If your 2015 left you losing your faith in humanity, just ask Terre Thomas to describe her week, and you probably will feel better.

"It was a Christmas disaster, and it's been a New Year's miracle. It's just awesome," said Thomas who is the director of Small Sums.

It was over the Christmas holiday when police believe a Grinch broke into Small Sums, a non-profit agency in St. Paul that helps homeless people get and keep a job.

"Saturday morning I walk into a disaster of an office with stolen stuff," she recalled.

The place was ransacked, desk drawers were tipped over, contents everywhere. As she walked through the office in shock, she said she discovered the thief stole a laptop, along with gift cards and bus passes she gives to the homeless. She estimated it was worth at least $4,000.

But then that one bad act prompted so many good ones.

"I went to the mail box this morning, and it was filled with all these envelopes that are not from people we know," as she held up a pile of letters.

They were filled with donations. Random kindness.

After she emailed supporters desperate for help, and after many more saw the story on the news this week, that help is still arriving.

"We got a phone call from a security company that said, we saw the KARE 11 story and we'd like to donate a security system to you," she said with a smile.

Just in monetary donations, she calculates people have given about $20,000 so far -- most of that online. She's keeping the rest in a safe place away from the building.

The money more than makes up for what the thief allegedly took.

"We spend about $2,000 a month on bus passes. So boom. It's great," she said.

So maybe there's a lesson in all of this for 2016. Just because your story starts out crummy, certainly doesn't mean it has to end that way.

"How can you not feel the love," she said. "We're really blessed."


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