Real-life Grinch robbed St. Paul homeless aid group on Christmas

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Small Sums, housed in the storage warehouse for Cheapo Music, helps the homeless get back on their feet.

Only the very desperate or the truly cruel would even consider stealing from a facility that exists to help the homeless. 

Do it on Christmas, and you've revealed a side of yourself that might be beyond redemption.

Small Sums, a St. Paul nonprofit, was broken into on December 25, when some person or persons threw a rock through their ground-floor window and tossed the place, taking a handful of small items and tearing apart a few offices in their search for valuables.

The biggest losses, though, get to the heart of Small Sums' mission.

The aid organization was founded specifically to help homeless people who have been offered a job, but don't have some of the necessities to get back into the workforce. The burglary robbed Small Sums of 76 Metro Transit bus passes and an equal number of gift cards for use at Goodwill. (The office, which is run out of donated space in a Cheapo Music warehouse, is conveniently located across the street from the Goodwill on University Avenue, and is right next to stops for the bus and the Green Line light rail.) 

According to Small Sums' website, 62 percent of people receiving its help have dependent children, and more than half are in need of help buying work clothes, uniforms, or public transit. 

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The break-in forced Terre Thomas to send out "the strangest fundraising request I've ever written."

Without those lost items, beneficiaries of Small Sums' work might not be able to get to their new workplaces, or pick out the pants they need to get or keep a job. 

The total damage from the theft comes to $3,471, exactly, and co-director Terre Thomas is hoping they can get the funds back quickly. In a Facebook post that Thomas called "the strangest fundraising request I've ever written," she says Small Sums wasn't insured for those small but vital things. Now she's hoping enough donations arrive in time to keep the operation flowing smoothly. 

"We do have to replace the bus and work-clothing cards in the next week because we only had about a week's worth that wasn't stored in the safe," Thomas wrote, adding, "They did not find the petty cash though — ha!"

The "they" in that sentence are still at large, according to the St. Paul Police Department. No arrests have been made related to the Christmas break-in; anyone with information on the crime can call the department's burglary unit at 651-266-5574.

If you feel like helping steal back Christmas from the Grinch, donations can be made at the Small Sums website. (If you know someone who needs the kind of help the organization provides, an online application is also available.) 

"Even if it's enough to cover one bus pass at $42.50," Thomas writes, "it will sure help."


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