Okmulgee Volunteers Devastated After Thieves Take From Youth Program
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma - Thieves have put a youth sports program in a big bind.
Volunteers are trying to figure out how they'll rebound from a big loss of sports equipment.
It happened in Okmulgee, where longtime volunteers feel like they were leveled by a linebacker when they heard the news.
Collis Jones filled out the police report.
"This is just discouraging to me," he said.
His brother Ronnie is just as discouraged.
"Now I understand when people say they feel violated," Ronnie Jones said.
They can't believe a youth sports program, which they've both dedicated 25 years developing, now has to deal with being a target of thieves.
They're taking inventory to see what all was stolen.
"It's very disheartening, Craig," Ronnie Jones said. "We've worked so hard at this, and to see your fruits of what you've done, I mean it just tears you apart."
"I'll be honest with you, it brought tears to my eyes," Collis Jones said.
Some time on Tuesday, thieves broke into the Okmulgee Junior Football Associations storage building, ransacked the place and took thousands of dollars worth of equipment.
It wasn't discovered for a few days.
The thieves took football helmets, cleats, cheerleading shoes and jerseys.
"Game jerseys? What [is a thief] going to do with those -- you can't wear them around here," Ronnie said.
It's a huge loss for the youth sports group that serves 150 kids each year and already constantly has to do fundraisers.
"We've just been working so hard to get this program where it's at, and it's a good program," Ronnie said.
The volunteers are working with Okmulgee police to try to figure out who broke into the building. They think kids are responsible.
"I don't want to see anything happen to those kids, I would take those kids and I would bring them into this here program to help touch their lives and try to turn those kids around," Collis said.
If the equipment isn't recovered, they'll have to ask the community again for help before practices begin in July.
"Just sickening to the stomach," Collis said.
"We going to push on, we going to push on," Ronnie said. "We going to find a way."
City crews will fix the damage to the building to make sure nothing else is stolen.
Anyone with information can call the Okmulgee Police tip line at 918-756-3511.