By Saturday afternoon, more than $4,000 in donations had been raised to replace catalytic converters stolen from two buses in the Services for Independent Living's fleet.
The catalytic converters, which control exhaust emissions, were stolen Thursday night from the buses the organization uses to give people rides to medical appointments, the grocery store or other errands.
Drivers discovered that the catalytic converters were stolen when they went to start the buses early Friday morning. Drivers start early to take people to dialysis and chemo treatments.
Services for Independent Living is a nonprofit center that promotes independence for people with disabilities, seniors and veterans. Its services are designed to increase quality of life and economic self-sufficiency. The organization charges a low fee for rides in Boone County, said Kathleen McKinney, outreach coordinator. Rides for veterans and their spouses are free. It relies on donations and grants to fund its transportation system and keep costs low for the people it serves.
“We have 6 transport vehicles and employ 7 drivers who transport 240 people per week on average,” according to a Facebook post by Services for Independent Living posted Friday morning.
Services for Independent Living lost revenue from cancelled rides, compounding the financial loss of the converters, McKinney said..
But by 3 p.m. Saturday, $4,160 had been raised on Facebook to offset the organization's losses..
"We are super grateful and overwhelmed by the generosity of the community," McKinney said.
McKinney said the fundraiser has already raised more than enough money to cover the deductible on the organization's insurance. Any extra funds will be used toward possible preventive measures for the future, such as renting an enclosed structure and overnight security, McKinney said.