JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Monday morning started with the Jonesboro Police Department at City Youth Ministries.
Operations Manager Briana Smith said she discovered something upsetting when she arrived at work to start the week.
"When I pulled in this morning, I was about to park and I saw on one of our vans that two of the tires were completely flat," Smith said. "I was wondering if they needed air, but as I looked closer I knew someone had slashed those tires. I was later informed by Haven that more tires had been slashed, as well."
Assistant Executive Director of City Youth Ministries Haven Cagle said airing up the tires wasn't a possibility.
"I called somebody to come out and see if we could air up our tires," Cagle said. "Get them fixed before the kids get here so we can go pick them up. And when he came, he said we can't fix this. These are slashed from a knife, it looks like. You're going to have to call somebody who can come and tow them and fix it. I can't help you. So, next we called the police and that's where we're at now."
Cagle said this is alarming to all of them.
"Not only does it concern us for our safety," Cagle said. "Because we have kids here. This isn't funny. Because this is messing with everybody. The saddest part is these kids were expecting to come to City Youth today. And they don't get to come now."
Cagle said people often don't realize how much they do with the children that attend City Youth Ministries.
"We pick the children up from school," Cagle said. "They come in and get to get a snack. We have a Bible study. We have all kinds of different activities like yoga, training, art, violin, drums. We feed them dinner and then take them home."
And while City Youth is a fun place for children, it also serves as an educational need.
"We have a huge literacy program," Cagle said. "Our director is a certified dyslexia therapist. We also have a number of other retired teachers and active teachers who come and help these kids learn how to read."
Smith said you can tell how much the children miss being there when they're gone.
"You can tell a difference," Smith said. "When we have breaks. For instance Christmas break. You can tell a difference that the kids haven't been here. Because they're just longing. They want to be a City Youth. They want to play and see their friends. Children from different schools come here. So, some of their friends they only see here."
City Youth Ministries is a faith based nonprofit organization that strives to fill the gap in children's lives.
Whether the need be meals, educational, social, or spiritual.
Cagle said, as a result, their funds are often limited.
"At City Youth, we work day to day financially," Cagle said. "We know God will always provide for us, but sometimes it's a crunch, and we have to be wise with our finances. And something like this, several hundred dollars at least, we're not equipped sometimes to just pay that out of pocket. We always know God will provide for us in that way, but this is just unnecessary. We run solely off of donations from our great community whose always been supportive of us. And also from grants. Some local and some not. And we're just thankful for that. And our donors shouldn't have to pay for this mess."
Cagle said she, the staff and children are all hurt.
"This is just outrageous," Cagle said. "It's uncalled for. And just the nerve of somebody who would do that. I just don't want them to get away with it."
"It makes me feel like, why?" Smith said. "I don't understand. These kids love to come to City Youth. They just love to come to City Youth and for them to not be able to come today and for someone to do such a vandalism as this. It's just so expensive. It will cost us quite a bit. I just ask why? What was the point?"
Smith said the need for children in the Jonesboro area is huge.
"The need of City Youth is building a foundation to further Jonesboro," Smith said. "People honestly don't realize that. We're imparting things in these kids that they're not getting at school, and not necessarily getting it at home either. So, when they come here, we're building a foundation to where they can stand in life. And without a foundation, you can't stand. So, we're building a foundation so they can. When problems come, they'll know. We're teaching them faith in God. We're teaching them that God loves them. We're teaching them these very vital important things they need in life. And without that, how can a community stand? And if a community can't stand, how can it grow?"
Smith said it's the children that City Youth Ministries is all about.
"It's greater than just the building," Smith said. "It's greater than just vans. It's greater than just City Youth staff. It's deeper and it's these kids. It's City Youth Ministries children who they've impacted. When I came in this morning I was sad, but immediately I thought we can't have programming for these kids. So, that's the sad part about it."
Cagle said the work they're doing is important and they won't let this stop them.
"I just want people to know that God is really moving at City Youth," Cagle said. "He's got some great things in store for us. And this is obviously Satan trying to set us back. But with the Lord we're going to press on and God will be with us."
Cagle said they hope to get the vans fixed quickly.
She said they would be notifying parents if they'll be closed on Tuesday, but they're hoping to have the problem fixed by then.
City Youth Ministries have 117 children enrolled with a huge waiting list of kids who want to go there.
For more information about City Youth Ministries, click here.
If you have any information about this crime, contact the Jonesboro Police Department by calling (870) 935-5562 or by clicking here.