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Salvation Army Mobile Canteen Demolished By Vandals

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There's frustration in Harlem after the Salvation Army was vandalized.

A truck used to help feed those in need was broken into and set on fire.

As CBS2's Kevin Rincon reported Monday, volunteers at the Salvation Army in Harlem woke up Monday to find their mobile canteen had been thrashed.

Capt. Chaka Watch said they smashed windows, damaged doors and left this vital community tool unusable.

"You're talking about a half a million dollars right here that has just been cut down to nothing. Just to repay it, I don't know how we're going to be able to do it," Watch said.

Surveying the damage, Watch says the vandalism impacts those who need it most.

"And we hurt because we love our community. We want to serve the community. We can't have a disaster, and the Salvation Army there can't help," Watch said.

The mobile canteen was being used as a kitchen to prepare hot meals while repairs were being made inside. During the coronavirus pandemic, the Salvation Army has been key to feeding many in Harlem.

Volunteers were angry.

"This van fed us when it was raining, storming and everything. And for them to do this to us is wrong, and they have to pay," one volunteer said.

The volunteer's SUV was parked right next to the truck and bore the brunt of the damage.

"How in God's name do you come in and destroy people's property like this," he said.

The FDNY said it was called just before 2 a.m. Firefighters were able to put out the flames, but the damage was already done.

One neighbor said he woke up to hear the chaos outside, and watched the glow of the flames from his window.

"We had gone to bed and heard what felt like a really loud pop," he said. "It really sounded like a big truck was dropping something... I would say about 15 minutes later we woke back up to another popping sound."

As investigators try to figure out who was behind the fire, the Salvation Army is hoping the community it has long served can now help in its hour of need. To contribute, CLICK HERE.

CBS2's Kevin Rincon contributed to this report. 

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