ORLANDO, Fla. – After its van used to transport furniture to those in need was stolen and crashed, an Orlando charity is seeking donations so it can replace the totaled vehicle and continue helping the community.
The Mustard Seed of Central Florida, the only local furniture and clothing bank, has set up a GoFundMe to raise money to purchase a new vehicle. Additionally, the organization would also be willing to accept a donation of a new van from a local car dealership.
“The Mustard Seed’s mission is to serve families suffering from many types of hardships,” The Mustard Seed’s Executive Director Kathy Baldwin said in a news release. “As our clients have said many times, ‘I never thought this would happen to us.’ Our company van was used for picking up donations, delivering needed items to families, as well as transporting volunteers to and from our community agencies. I am hopeful there are generous individuals and companies willing to help us get back on the road.”
The seven-passenger van was at a business in Winter Park being detailed on Aug. 13 and was left with the doors open and key in the ignition as it was drying. Police said that’s when an unknown man hopped behind the wheel and sped off.
An employee of the auto detailing business saw what happened and followed the stolen van on his motorcycle, providing authorities with its location even after the 911 dispatcher told him to stop.
The culprit crashed the van into a Mini Cooper on Orange Avenue and South Orlando Avenue then got out to check on the other driver and after that, tried to drive off in the van but when it wouldn’t start he got into a random vehicle, according to the report.
The auto detailing employee got back on his motorcycle and followed that vehicle, which police said they eventually stopped but by that point the culprit had already been dropped off at an area hospital.
The driver said the man told him “people were trying to kill him,” according to a news release.
The Winter Park Police Department is investigating.
The Mustard Seed said the Ford van, which was purchased in 2015 for $15,000, was rendered a total loss due to frame damage. Insurance provided the charity with $8,109 but The Mustard Seed is still trying to raise an additional $10,000 to buy a new van.
To donate to the cause, click here.