Vandal hits nonprofit: 'You have to stay calm and move on'

EUGENE, Ore. -- The Assistance League of Eugene's thrift store was boarded up Monday after a vandal struck Sunday evening on Willamette Street in downtown Eugene.

"We were going to have a big, grand reopening celebration, hopefully coordinated with a Eugene celebration to promote our programs," said Assistance League of Eugene president-elect Patti Baker on Monday morning in front of the thrift store.

But Baker said the celebration and the scheduled remodel for the thrift store will have to be postponed.

Eugene police said 23-year-old Samuel James Vannoy smashed front windows and ransacked the inside of the thrift store around 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Shards of glass, clothing items and even a cash register littered the sidewalk in front of the store. Eugene police arrested Vannoy, who was still inside.

Baker and other Assistance League of Eugene volunteers cleaned up the mess that night.

"From here down to the front was full of glass-all of our stem wear and stuff-all thrown over," said Baker, now inside the store, Willamette Street no longer visible from inside because of the boards nailed to the outside faade.

This vandalism comes just under two months after a prior setback for the organization.

On June 18, the building right next door to the Assistance League of Eugene's thrift store, which housed apartments and a clothing shop called Puttin' on the Ritz, went up in flames. Smoke from the fire wafted into Assistance League of Eugene's building, and they were forced to close their thrift store for more than one week.

Baker said the group's primary philanthropy project, providing school clothes for kids in the Eugene and Bethel school districts, will suffer.

"Hurting those we're trying to help," she added.

Baker said revenue from in store sales at the thrift store fund the Assistance League of Eugene's projects. She said the organization's main source of revenue is cut off when they have to close the doors.

"You have to stay calm and move on," she said. "That's our motto because, what else can you do?"

Baker said the Assistance League of Eugene raised more than $1,600 to clothe school kids in the Eugene and Bethel school districts last year.

Eugene police said Vannoy appeared to be having a mental break when they made the arrest. They added that Vannoy's motives for the crime are unclear. He was lodged in the Lane County Jail on burglary, criminal mischief and physical harassment charges.