ILION – Police are investigating the theft of a Pop Warner football donation jar from a village convenience store.
The jar was taken some time during the past week, from the Ilion Nice ‘n’ Easy Subway counter on Central Avenue.
Pop Warner President Bill Pope said he made the discovery Thursday, July 28, but believes it happened earlier.
“I had noticed a few days earlier that the jar was gone,” he said. “But I was on my way to work and the employees there are very good about putting the money behind the counter when it gets full so I assumed that’s what happened.”
But when he returned days later to collect it, he discovered employees did not have it behind the counter.
Pope promptly reported the theft to police. Ilion police confirmed they are investigating the matter, however they cannot comment further due to the ongoing investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call them at 894-9911.
In addition to the canister taken from Nice ‘n’ Easy, Pope said money may have been stolen from Greenie’s Market on West Main Street as well.
“The jar is still there, but the owner told me there had been money in it and now the money is gone,” Pope explained. “But since we can’t prove it, we’re focusing on the other one that was obviously stolen.”
Pope said he and other Pop Warner officers check on donation jars around the village two to three times a month, and that the one in Nice ‘n’ Easy regularly brings in anywhere from $50 to $250 at each check.
All that money goes toward new equipment and uniforms, as well giving children in difficult financial situations the opportunity to participate for free as part of a no-child-left-behind program.
In addition, the money supports a new Challenger Team, begun by Ilion Pop Warner last year. The Challenger Team provides an opportunity for physically and otherwise handicapped children to play football and cheerlead, again, free of charge.
The Pop Warner season begins Monday, Aug. 1.
In the wake of the theft, the community has shown its true colors with an outpouring of support, Pope said.
A GoFundMe campaign, started by the Herkimer-based Facebook page Man Tip of the Day, has already raised $425, and a number of local people and groups have taken up collections for Pop Warner, including the village DPW and Polish Community Home in Herkimer, Pope said.
“The spirit of the community is fantastic,” he said.
Donate to the GoFundMe campaign here: https://www.gofundme.com/2gusvcvw