Challenge Garden Centre employee Louise McKinnon (left) and marketing manager Jewel Brown
Challenge Garden Centre employee Louise McKinnon (left) and marketing manager Jewel Brown

Thieves target charity



VANDALS have ruined the faith of staff at a Murwillumbah charity-based workplace after a break-in on Wednesday night.

Management of the Challenge Garden Centre in Quarry Road were shocked by the break-in at a time when the charity was trying to get back on its feet and overcome its current financial struggle.

The Challenge Garden Centre is one of the enterprises run by Challenge Tweed Incorporated which employs around 70 people with disabilities.

Sometime between 5pm on Tuesday and 6am Wednesday, thieves jumped the fence and smashed a window in a small nursery office.

They broke apart a small drink- vending machine to get to the money inside.

Challenge marketing manager Jewel Brown said the thieves took only about $80 from the leased drink machine but caused at least $2000 damage which the centre will have to repay.

They also raided the employees' Christmas fund, taking about $100 which had been raised towards a staff Christmas party. The 10 staff at the centre had raised the money by selling handmade wooden reindeer to customers.

Employee Louise McKinnon said she was absolutely shocked and disgusted at the break-in.

"It is a real shame people would break in and steal from a charity, from an organisation which is trying to establish itself in a positive way in the community," she said.

"The Christmas fund was for our party at the end of the year, so that is disappointing too."

Ms Brown said the break-in was a blow just when the garden centre was doing its best to raise its community profile and improve its trading position. "We have been struggling fin-ancially, but the recent open day was a real success and people are realising what wonderful services we offer," she said. "So this is a setback. It is disappointing for all the staff after so much effort."



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