Maranatha Christian Academy was burglarized of nearly $12,000 this weekend.
Rod Bell, president of Maranatha, said the struggling Christian private school held an auction Saturday to raise funds to help pay its teachers. He said the cash and checks earned from the event were kept in the school’s safe over the weekend — a move he calls atypical.
Bell said auction organizers felt that since they would be busy with Mother’s Day events Sunday, event proceeds would be most secure in the safe at the school until Monday.
"Usually we don’t leave anything there," he said.
Bell said he received a phone call from Oakwood City Police at 4:15 a.m. Monday informing him that a door to the school was ajar. Bell said the safe and its contents were missing.
Oakwood Police Capt. Andy Smith said an officer found a door to the school open Monday morning while making his routine rounds.
Smith said the door does not appear to have been forced open.
"We are investigating it," he said. "Right now, we’re just at the preliminary stages."
Bell said the school has been struggling financially this year. Since the school year began in August, Maranatha has lost 25 students because of students’ economic constraints, he said. The school still has 83 students, Bell said.
Bell said when he first took over in November, the school had a roughly $100,000 deficit. He said the school has held many fundraisers since then and community members have been very generous in helping the school keep its doors open.
He said the burglary is a big blow to the school’s fundraising efforts, but he has faith in the community.
"I don’t know how to express how I feel; it’s just the craziest thing," he said. "People just gave what they could give (for the auction) and I was amazed at what we secured."
Bell said donated items ranging from spa treatments to time shares were auctioned off at the Saturday fundraiser. He said the school is attempting to contact donators who wrote checks for auction items to inform them of the burglary.
"We really needed those funds to meet the needs of our teachers. We really are on the last rung," he said. "... It seems like we have just had one thing after another hit, but the Lord has met our need and that is encouraging."