Durham County

Thief takes food, school supplies from McDougald Terrace community

A food pantry being started by McDougald Terrace residents was broken into and ransacked last weekend.

“It really did break my heart,” said Ashley Canady, 30, president of the resident council and a mother of four. “I was at the point of giving up.”

The council is seeking nonperishable food and school supplies so they can still open the pantry and will be accepting donations at 10 a.m. Tuesdays at 51 Ridgeway Avenue unit B.

Donations can also be dropped off at Durham Housing Authority’s Resident Services office at 533 E. Main St. weekdays during normal business hours.

The council had set up an office in a five-bedroom apartment at McDougald Terrace, the city’s largest public housing complex. It included six computers for residents to use and a clothing closet.

The roughly 360 apartments in the brick buildings near East Lawson Street serve low-income residents.

The resident council had been collecting school supplies for about a year, which they planned to give out on National Night Out as well as keep in the office for those who needed them.

They had been collecting food for two months.

“We just got enough food in the last week to open it, and we can’t even open it up to the community,” Canady said.

People who live near the unit told Canady it was broken into Saturday, but Canady wasn’t contacted until Monday.

When she walked in, she found tables on the floor, food smeared on the walls and cases of juice and other items gone.

“Whatever you can name was all over the walls,” she said.

The culprit or culprits also walked off with office and school supplies, some of which ended up strewn about on the lawn.

“They took all of our copy paper, school notebook paper,” she said. “They took the pencils.”

Some of the clothes had to be thrown away but some of it could be washed, she said. They also took a barbecue grill.

“I was at a breaking point,” Canady said. “I was upset. I was hurt.”

Other residents encouraged her to not give up.

“This was just another thing, obstacle that we can overcome,” she said. “Let’s get in here. Let’s get it done.”

Virginia Bridges: 919-829-8924, @virginiabridges