Copper theft hits charity project

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 27, 2007

By By Kerry Whipple Bean – publisher
Volunteers arrived at a Brewton house Saturday to continue renovation work that will provide a safe home for a resident and her two daughters.
They were prepared to install insulation, paid for in large part by donations collected by children at a vacation Bible school the week before.
What the volunteers found was a crime scene.
Copper wiring - installed just a few weeks before - had been stripped from the house.
The organization - new to the Brewton area - is dedicated to providing safe, secure and sanitary housing for the elderly and children in the community.
The house at 519 Neal St. was the group's first major renovation project after a few smaller activities.
Already bolstered by donations and support from a number of individuals and area businesses, ARM now needs more help - not only to find whoever stole the copper, but also to finish the Neal Street project, Jennings said.
The group is planning a work day for Saturday, July 14, to do the bulk of the work needed toward making the house a safe home again.
At least two area churches and an old school have already been the victims of copper theft in Brewton. With the material selling for a high rate, the crime has become more popular in recent months.
Jennings urged anyone who knows anything about the crime to call the Brewton Police Department at 867-3212.
In the meantime, she and other ARM volunteers are turning their attention to the home in need. The project had already received help from individuals and from businesses such as Hines Realty, T.R. Miller Mill Co., Alabama Power and Southern Pine Electric Cooperative. First United Methodist Church has provided office space for the ARM affiliate.
Children from St. Maurice Catholic Church, St. Stephen's Episcopal Church and First United Methodist Church collected money for the project during their vacation Bible school last week. That money has paid for insulation and sheetrock.
In-kind help and volunteer man-hours have not been in short supply, Jennings said. But money has been harder to come by. Jennings estimates that to get the house in shape enough to keep it safe and locked up, ARM will need another $1,000 for materials. To be habitable again, the project will need another $3,000, she said.
The house was first damaged during Hurricane Ivan, whose high winds damaged the roof and broke windows. The homeowner, a single mother, has two elementary school-age daughters.
Jennings said ARM's goal is to help make dilapidated houses safe places to live again.
Jennings has worked with volunteers to help a number of Brewton residents recover from Ivan damage. The hurricane devastated Brewton, she said, but the conditions in which some residents live devastates their families every day.
Jennings encouraged anyone interested in volunteering to come to the July 14 workday. Anyone interested in volunteering or donating to the porject can call her at 363-0640 or Ellen Mantel at 238-0236.

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