Watch CBS News

'They Stole From These Kids': New Jersey Camp For Homeless Children Raising Funds For Bus Repairs After Catalytic Converter Was Stolen

ELIZABETH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- A summer camp for homeless children in New Jersey is trying to get back on the road after an expensive part of their school bus was stolen.

Summer camp just started this week at Bernice's Place, a program in Union County run by the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless.

It's for kids 5-12 years old who are homeless or housing insecure.

"It's really fun for me to come here and have a little fun and make friends," 11-year-old Isabel Reyes said.

"We go on trips and do fun stuff," 10-year-old Semaj Hall said.

"They get to kinda get some place that's stable so that they can kind of balance out instability they're dealing with at home," said Linda Flores-Tober, executive director of the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless.

But on the first day of camp, their yellow bus would not work, and they discovered its catalytic converter had been stolen.

The camp uses the bus to pick up the 50 or so kids each day and drop them off, as well as take them on field trips each week.

"Whoever did it didn't care about that. They just were only looking at the money. That's a real shame," Flores-Tober told CBS2's Ali Bauman.

Police nationwide, and especially in New Jersey, have been warning recently about a growing number of thieves stealing catalytic converters from vehicles because they're made with precious metals.

"Now the bus is sitting in the repair shop waiting for a catalytic converter because they're in short supply because so many of these things get stolen," Flores-Tober said.

RELATED STORY: Thieves Going To Great Lengths To Steal Car Catalytic Converters, Law Enforcement Warns In NYC & Across U.S.

For now, they're taking kids back and forth each day in a minivan and renting a bus once a week for field trips.

"We went to the arcade, and we also went swimming," Isabel said.

"It's gonna be like a $2,000 repair, plus $1,000 a week for six weeks or until it gets repaired to take the kids on their trips," Flores-Tober said.

That's a steep price tag for a camp that is completely free for families.

"They didn't steal from the coalition, they didn't steal from the staff, they stole from these kids and that really makes me angry," Flores-Tober said.

The camp has nowhere else to turn but to donations to raise the money for repairs. If you would like to donate, click here.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.