Durham nonprofit struggles to recover from $15,000 burglary
Posted April 1, 2016
Durham, N.C. — A Durham nonprofit that helps at-risk youth is struggling to recover after burglars stole about $15,000 of audio and sports equipment in a February break-in at a storage facility in the Bull City.
Campaign4Change has been working to help vulnerable communities in Durham for about 15 years. Vegan Don, the nonprofit’s executive director, said the theft has had a big impact on the group’s outreach programs.
One of the key initiatives at the organization is an after-school and summer basketball league that invites more than 200 young people to participate as athletes, event managers, communications specialists and concessions managers in the games.
The catch? In order to play or run the basketball games, the kids have to complete mandatory community service and educational workshops throughout the summer.
"Basketball is about 30 percent of what we do," Don explained. "It's a great luring mechanism to encourage kids to join Campaign4Change. These programs are anti-gang and anti-drug focused, and they keep kids off the street. As you see on the news every day, things are getting wilder and crazier, and we’re trying to prevent that."
Although there is an ongoing investigation to recover the items, this loss comes at a critical time for the organization, which was planning to expand to Raleigh this year.
"This couldn’t have come at a worst time," Don said. "We don’t have a budget to even try to make that expansion happen now."
Campaign4Change has insurance, but it didn't cover this off-site equipment.
"The storage unit was supposed to have high-tech security equipment and somebody doing rounds," Don explained. "It must have taken at least 20 minutes to load that equipment up."
The vandals damaged the basketball league's mascot and took all of their musical equipment, including microphones, sound systems and speakers. This equipment is crucial to the entertainment aspect of the nonprofit's basketball games and halftime shows.
"We have a live DJ that plays music during the games and makes announcements with the microphone," Don explained. "That equipment took us about seven years to accumulate. We’d buy a piece here and a piece there, because we’re a grassroots organization. We don’t have the money to go out and buy $15,000 worth of equipment at one time."
Don explained that it's just not an option to hold the basketball league without the equipment.
"[Those pieces] are what make our basketball league different," he said. "We don’t just have kids just playing basketball - it's about entertainment. It’s kind of like a show, and kids really love it, because it’s similar to the NBA. We have some smaller kids who don’t even play, but they love to come. It’s an event for the whole community, and it gets everybody involved."
Tryouts for the Campaign4Change basketball league start in April, and they'll need to replace the stolen equipment by June 1. "I try to keep pushing," Don shared. "That's what we tell the kids. A lot of our participants are dealing with adversity or being impoverished or poor, so I can’t cry about this. I just have to keep moving forward."
Capitol Broadcasting is a sponsor of Campaign for Change. You can look for coverage of the season openers on FOX 50 in June.