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West Side, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping children steal laptops, tablets and vans: “Such a violation”

PARC WEST HUMBOLDT – The founder of The block is asking the public for help after a group of people broke into the headquarters of the nonprofit West Humboldt Park this week and stole supplies intended for children on the West Side.

The robbery took place at around 4:45 a.m. Monday, police said. A group of people forced their way through a side window and back door of the Bloc headquarters at 1345 N. Karlov Ave., the former home of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Mission of Christ. The group stole at least six laptops, tablets, an Internet router and one of the association’s large vans, founder Jamyle Cannon said. The robbery was filmed by the building’s surveillance camera.

The Bloc is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating West Side children through boxing and academic programs. After a few years of operation as an after-school program, the organization took over the church in West Humboldt Park last year.

“We see it as a sanctuary. What happened was such a violation of that, ”Cannon said. “Seeing people on video walking in space, destroying property, taking things that belong to our children and our community, is one of the most infuriating things I have had to deal with as a as a nonprofit leader. “

Cannon and his team are raising funds to purchase a security system and replace stolen items. They are also looking for donations to support their work. Donations can be made online at The Bloc’s website.

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For The Bloc, losing one of the group pique vans.

The two vans were used to transport children to and from boxing lessons and tutoring sessions. They have become a “centerpiece” of the association because they ensure that any child, even those whose parents do not have a car or do not have enough money to pay for bus tickets, can participate and benefit from Bloc programs, Cannon said. .

Cannon recruited a group of volunteers to help with pickups and drop-offs until the organization was able to replace the second van.

“The hardest part is getting the kids to the Bloc so they don’t have to miss out because this has happened. I am determined to make sure they are not missing anything, ”he said.

Cannon started The Bloc in 2016 to help West Side kids get off the streets and into the boxing ring. In addition to boxing training, The Bloc offers tutoring and academic enrichment programs at its headquarters and at local schools. The organization generally serves around 120 children; last year, registrations were limited to 50 children due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The theft hit the Bloc kids hard, some of them “palpably angry,” Cannon said.

“We promise safety and security to the children who come to us. We promise it will be a space where no matter what, you can breathe a sense of relief here. For it to be violated at such a fundamental level – it’s difficult to deal with, ”he said.

Even if the theft is a setback, that won’t stop Cannon from growing the nonprofit. Next school year, Cannon aims to increase enrollment to 300 children. He said the Bloc has established roots in the neighborhood, and the theft will not take away from their mission.

Neighbors in West Humboldt Park have been extremely supportive of the Bloc since the nonprofit moved into the church last year, Cannon said. The man who alerted Cannon to the theft has been a neighbor who has been watching for months, he said. For a while, another neighbor was mowing the grass for the association “because they loved and supported” the organization. And neighbors regularly donate to the organization to keep its programs strong.

“We know what happened does not reflect the way the community views us,” Cannon said.

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