CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -It was business as usual at the Cleveland Boys and Girls Club. A couple of dozen kids were playing dodge ball, another group was painting in the craft room and the pool and ping pong tables were in demand.
Everyday after school about 125 kids come through the doors and CEO Ron Soeder is there to greet them, but his smile was a bit forced after thieves stole 2 vans out of a temporary parking lot, “I am really angry and sad about this, really when you think about it you’re stealing from the kids.”
Soeder tells me he has asked the city, multiple times, to fix the handful of street lights that surround the club that are burned out. There is no way to tell if that would have stopped these crooks, who crossed a line, ripping off a community asset.
“It’s a place that people know is safe, its here to help kids and it’s been generally left alone,” Soeder said.
The club uses the vans for what they call exposure trips used for inter-club sports, band programs, college tours and workforce clubs. This weekend they were taking the younger kids to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, “That van was probably going to be used to transport a 6 year old to the Polar Express, so what really happened is they took it from this young person that was going to get an experience they may miss out on," Soeder said.
The club had only liability insurance on the vans, so insurance will be no help. They expect it to cost over 40 thousand dollars to replace the vans. Soeder remains hopeful that the van may be returned.