Local youth sports league dealing with theft of equipment valued at close to $5,000

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HAZLE TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — As if the year of the pandemic wasn’t bad enough, after being robbed of their season, a group of local young athletes was robbed of their gear and uniforms when someone broke into their shed.

And now they’re desperate to raise money and recoup the loss.

It’s been a tough year for the Hazle Township Raiders. They couldn’t have their regular season because of COVID-19, and now they have to replace thousands of dollars of stolen equipment before they can play again.

“We don’t know what the motive would be as to why someone would take it other than just to be malicious,” Hazle Township Youth Football League Vice President Kurt McHugh said.

McHugh says they’re looking at a loss of nearly $5,000 after someone robbed the shed at their practice facility on Wednesday.

“When we went to our storage facility, we found the padlock and garage door had been broken and a bunch of our stuff was missing,” McHugh said.

Because of the ongoing investigation and dealings with insurance, McHugh did not want to show the shed or its location on camera. He said the stolen property included football equipment, cheerleading uniforms, and 14 football helmets. It took a lot of fundraising to purchase all of that gear, and now it’s gone.

“Just sad because now we have to work so hard to get it all back,” player Thomas McHugh said.

“Everything that we have is completely through fundraising. We push the fundraising as much as we can. We have a very dedicated group of volunteers, because we try to keep the cost as low as we can for the participants,” McHugh said.

Raising money has already been challenging with COVID. They can’t have their biggest fundraisers, purse bingo and concessions.

But McHugh says the Raiders are used to facing challenges head-on. When COVID shut down their regular season, they found a way to keep practicing, and keep their heads up during a stressful time.

“It was really the only time I got to see all my friends because everything else was just in my house, virtual school, virtual everything,” Thomas McHugh said.

McHugh says they won’t let thieves ruin next year’s season for these kids.

“It didn’t deter us from our ultimate goal, which is to better these kids and use youth football and youth cheerleading as an avenue in order to do that so it makes it harder but we’re still going to continue with that goal,” McHugh said.

Pennsylvania State Police Hazleton is investigating the burglary. And the Raiders are starting to collect donations to replace the stolen property.

McHugh says the community has already stepped up to help out. So far the Hazle Township Youth Football League has raised a little more than $1,300 in donations.

Click here to donate to the league’s GoFundMe page.

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