Tampa, FL -- In the day since a burglar broke into a restaurant and stole donations meant for a children's bike drive, customers and strangers have stepped in to help.
Just before 4 a.m. on Sunday, someone threw a large, heavy rock through Alex's Bar-B-Q on West Village Drive. In under a minute, the person was able to run away after grabbing a donation jar for the "Alex's X-Mas for Kids" program. It was attached to the restaurant's soda machine.
A surveillance system at Terra Sur Cafe next door caught the person on-camera, though the image is grainy.
"If somebody is in need of something that I could help them out with, don't take it from me," says owner Alex Cooks. "Come and ask for it."
All day Monday, people stopped by the Carrollwood restaurant to drop off donations. The restaurant has started a PayPal page for people who can't come there, but want to donate. On their Facebook page, they've also announced a golf tournament to be held December 10 with all proceeds benefiting the bike drive.
We have attached an image of the flyer with info.
For each of the last 13 years, "Alex's X-Mas for Kids" has collected hundreds of bikes to give to Hillsborough County kids in need each holiday season.
"I was one of ten growing up, and I never received a new bicycle," Cooks says.
That experience has inspired his generosity, just like Sunday's break-in has inspired people to give.
"I saw it on the news. I saw that he was broken into," says customer Martin Kleiner. "I think I was more upset than he was."
Contractors Notice Services stopped by with a $1,000 check. Others wheeled in scooters and bicycles. One woman who said she had recently lost her job came in with a cash donation.
"Somebody may break a couple windows, but the bike program is still going to go on," says Cooks.
If you have any information about the break-in, you're urged to call the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office at 813-247-8200, call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS (8477) or text "CSTB" plus your tip to "C-R-I-M-E-S" (274637).