Following theft, KC community center making strong comeback thanks to outpouring of support

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A nonprofit youth program in Kansas City’s historic Northeast is now making a fighting comeback.

FOX4 first told you about a break-in and theft, resulting in the loss of thousands of dollars in equipment earlier this month.

Now the community’s generosity is helping Whatsoever Community Center fight through.

After thieves busted down the back door to the 105-year-old community center during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, coach Eddy Guillen was feeling beaten down.

“It has been extremely challenging,” said Guillen, youth director and head boxing coach at Whatsoever Community Center.

After FOX4 shared the center’s story, its GoFundMe page to recover what was lost saw donations soar.

“I am grateful for everything everyone gave us,” said youth boxer Valelia Malaelu.

The boxing community punched up even more support from Kansas City clubs.

“We were able to get new covers from Title Boxing Club. They came out and helped a lot. We’ve just been really blessed,” said Guillen.

Gyms across the country chipped in, too.

“This is from Ringside Boxing Club—gloves, pads, shoes, pads for the ring,” Guillen said.

The kindness didn’t stop there. Thursday, local McDonald’s franchise owner-operators Lisa and Ethan Essig donated $5,000 to the club to help them continue their mission to train kids with free programs that help build confidence and critical life skills.

“We love the Northeast. There’s such a great sense of community here and I know this was devastating to the people who come here to the community center and really rely on having a place to go. So we’re just thrilled to help out,” said Lisa Essig, McDonald’s Great Plains Co-Op owner-operator.

“You made me a believer! I was really down because sometimes the area sucks, but I’m like man, people care. And I’m glad they care. That makes this holiday season a lot better,” Guillen said.

All told, the club has gotten donations exceeding $10,000. They’ll be able to replace all the stolen gear, plus replace their busted door, install new security equipment and start a nest egg to help kids enter future boxing tournaments.

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