Thief steals $200 from local charity, community donates to make up the difference

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - On a steaming hot day, it's hard to walk past a sizzling grill without stopping. That's the whole idea behind the Juvenile Research Diabetes Foundation, North Alabama Chapter's Sidewalk Sale. “80% of every dollar given to JRDF is given back to research," says Jenni Jeffers, the Development Coordinator for the local chapter.  “With Type 1 diabetes, it’s a daily balancing act just to stay alive and that’s not being melodramatic.”

So you can imagine the shock Friday, when someone stole their tip jar.  “We had a gentleman come up and ask for a cheeseburger, went to put cheese on it," explains Scott Thompson, Store Manager of The Fresh Market.  “He grabbed that and just took off running from us. It had roughly 200 dollars in it. It was heartbreaking that it was obviously being taken from a children’s charity.”

The Juvenile Research Diabetes Foundation does this fundraiser every year, in partnership with The Fresh Market. In addition to sales from burgers, hot dogs, and root beer floats, they find volunteers to help bag groceries for donations. Which is why when some of their generous donations were stolen, it hit them hard.  “It kicks you in the gut," says Jeffers, "I just can’t believe anybody would want to take money away from something that would make someone’s life so much better.”

So far police haven't been able to find the bandit.  “I definitely know what he looks like, if I see him I will call the police," says Thompson.

Where one person's decency failed, countless others have stepped up to the plate.  “[Saturday] our goal was to raise $500 . We raised $1,400. The community heard about what happened to us, they’ve stepped up.”

JRDF set a goal of raising $10,000 total. They haven't learned their final total yet, but believe they're right at $12,000 for the overall fundraiser.

If you'd like to donate to JDRF, North Alabama Chapter, this is their website:

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