LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Thieves stole hundreds of shoes from a San Fernando Valley nonprofit that teaches students character development by training them for the Los Angeles Marathon.
A storage unit maintained by Students Run LA was hit twice in a matter of days. The second time, the burglars came back with a truck and more tools to take some of the items they couldn't carry away the first time.
"It's truly heartbreaking that someone broke in not just once but twice into our inventory of things that are not for us, but for students who actually earn them and deserve them," said student Andrea Jimenez.
SRLA executive director Marsha Charney says the burglars got away with about 500 pairs of shoes.
Students Run LA helps underserved students train for the LA Marathon. The shoes, transportation and coaches are all free to the students. The group says the training helps young people with setting goals, developing character and improving their health.
"Coming from a low-income family who didn't really have the resources, I was really grateful they made me have all of these things," said Jimenez.
"Most of the students, they don't have the supplies that they need to train and run, and someone stealing all these supplies, it's truly heartbreaking because these are essential items that students need."
SRLA serves about 3,000 students a year, so this was about 15% of their inventory. The organization is confident Nike will step in to replace the stolen shoes in time for the fall, when training begins.
The next Los Angeles Marathon is scheduled for March 19, 2023.
"We have a wonderful outpouring of support already from the community," Charney said. "People have just been shocked by it and stepped up to help us."
"We're in 185 schools all over the greater Los Angeles area so we will be trying to find a somewhat convenient location where we can store and distribute the materials from."
If you'd like to help or volunteer, go to SRLA.org.