Ed French, Gary Metro Little League president, returned Sunday night from a tournament in Milwaukee with three teams of happy, cheering children.
On Monday, he got a call the concession stand where the group keeps its supplies and petty cash was robbed. The thieves made off with $500 in food and about $100 to $125 in cash.
"I just don't understand why would they take from kids," French said.
The thieves broke into the field at 21st Avenue and Harrison Street behind Roosevelt High School on Monday, Gary Police Cpl. Gabrielle King said. In addition to the cash and food, the thieves damaged the locks during the break-in, King said.
The league already replaced the locks, French said. The locksmith gave the league 10 days to come up with $300 for the new locks.
"I don't know how we're going to pay them," French said.
Particularly hurtful to French was that the league, which has programs for Gary children from age 4 to high school age, lets people in the impoverished town have some food for free if they volunteer to chase balls or keep score. The group already lowered its registration fee to $20 from $65 so more children can afford to join.
French said the stand was a mess of broken doors and scattered food.
"Just numerous things all over, like they had ransacked the place," French said. "When I saw that, my face just dropped in disbelief at how hard we had been working in turning this team around."
People can send donations to Gary Metro Little League at 1355 Chase St., Gary, IN, 46404. They can also drop off food at the concession stand.