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Collection boxes removed from Mobile Highway after being trashed

Collection boxes removed from Mobile Highway after being trashed

For months, Teen Challenge donation boxes on Mobile Highway have been an eyesore, surrounded by trash and a hot spot for thieves.

"It's just a constant battle with people taking things that don't belong to them from these boxes we have," said Seth Eskalinen, the store manager of the Teen Challenge Thrift Store.

Criminals were not only stealing from the boxes, but also from the men and the women the store help.

"All the donated products that come in here we sell and that money goes back into the centers who help people who are in addiction - recovering addicts," Eskalinen added.

On Tuesday, the boxes are nowhere to be seen. Instead, debris takes their place.

The nonprofit decided to remove three problematic drop-off boxes located outside the Walmart on Mobile Highway.

Waterfront Rescue Mission decided to do away with collection boxes about a decade ago for similar reasons.

Store employees tell us it's disappointing news. They said after a long battle, they had no other option then to remove them.

"You don't expect it to just be ransacked and people going in and grabbing items out of the boxes because if people are donating to Teen Challenge they know about Teen Challenge," store employee Zachary Cuts said.

Loyal customers said the news was heartbreaking and they donate to the boxes every chance they get.

One customer said she even witnessed these crimes.

"It's not like they're just getting one thing, you know, and maybe getting a shirt or something," customer Charlie Karlin said. "They take it all out and just throw it everywhere. I just think that's horrible."

The group reached out to police, ultimately deciding not to press charges.

However, they do have this message for those stealing.

"If you're in need of something, please, just ask. We'll try to help you in anyway we can," Eskalinen said.

You can still give back to this organization, by dropping off items at one of their three local stores located on Mobile Highway, 9th Avenue or Nine Mile Road.

If needed, call and you can schedule to have items picked up from your home for free.

The stores are open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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