Vandal Theft Imperils 40,000 Meals to HIV/AIDS-Infected Chicago Residents

(Chicago) – August 10, 2012. Vandals in July have repeatedly struck a food pantry for HIV/AIDS-infected individuals located on Chicago’s West Side, stripping the center of its electric copper wiring and commercial air conditioning unit from the roof and causing damages of $50,000, a loss that may cost the loss of 40,000 meals for hundreds of ill Chicago residents.

The vandalized electrical system plunged the Vital Bridges Center on Chronic Care in Chicago’s West Garfield neighborhood into darkness, knocking out computers, telephones, and the industrial refrigerator, forcing the removal of tons of food to other locations for refrigeration.

“This disaster will exceed $50,000 above what our insurance will cover,” said Vital Bridges’ chief Deborah Hinde. “We don’t have a spare $50,000 in storage. We will need to cannibalize $50,000 from our food purchases and our rent grants to clients. There is no other way.”

Hinde says the Vital Bridges’ clients lack any fall back options for assistance.

“Our clients are sick, live on less than $800 per month and rely on us for nutritious food and help with rent,” said “Without our food and rent assistance, their health will deteriorate, and they may end up on the streets.”

Hinde noted that the $50,000 of damages equals the food for about 40,000 meals or 1,000 nights of safe, stable housing.

“We don’t want to cut food or rent assistance for our clients,” said Hinde. However, unless we raise an extra $50,000, we will need to cut 40,000 meals and rent grants.”

Hinde says Vital Bridges is soliciting gifts of $75 or more towards the purchase of new security cameras, secure fencing for the roof, rerouted wiring, and a new air conditioner.

“Every contribution will mean that fewer dollars that have to be taken from essential food and rent help,” says Hinde.

For more information or to make a donation, please call 773-271-9161 or visit the Vital Bridges Web site at www.vitalbridges.org.

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