Carolyn Layne and Jean Hall were standing in the church parking lot telling The Journal how thieves had stolen $1,000 worth of meat meant for the needy when something unexpected happened.
Just then, Kyle Deloof pulled up in a truck and the owner of Davy Jones Quality Meats offered to donate enough meat to fill the church’s large freezer.
“I heard what happened and it broke my heart,” Deloof said.
For the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, it felt like Christmas came early. Meat used to feed 100 or more people each month at the Inn of the Good Shepherd disappeared from its freezer sometime between Nov. 22 and 24.
“That is a total miracle,” Layne said with a big smile. “It’s so generous. I’m just blown away.”
Also missing was ground beef donated by the church’s relief society to feed teens at The Hub.
“It was so devastating,” said Layne, who shops for much of the food the church donates. “I had just picked up four turkeys and I wanted to get them in the freezer.”
When she approached the shed she realized the bolt had been pried open. Missing were 37 pork loins, 11 packages of ground beef and two turkeys. All that was left was a pack of wieners and a single turkey.
“I thought, why would (the thief) leave one turkey?” she asked. “Maybe they heard someone coming and ran.”
Layne prides herself on using church donations wisely and buying meat only on sale. She had stocked the freezer with six months worth of meals.
Police were called, but there are no leads so far.
The church is generally quiet about the work it does in the community, said member Brad Fickling. But in this case he wanted to warn others about the robbery.
“We want the community to be aware there’s a Grinch going around stealing,” said Fickling. “If they are taking from a church, well, what’s next?”
Layne said church members planned to prepare the next meal at the Inn on Dec. 21 by stretching resources and making Shepherd’s pie instead of pork loin.
But after Deloof’s generous offer, the meal program is back on track.
“Deep down I didn’t want to say too much about the theft because it was a story of grief,” said church Bishop Andrew Withers.
“But I also knew we needed to warn others and now we have this amazing news.”
Lester Farms near Brigden has also stepped up with a turkey, and other donations have come in to assist the meal program for the needy.
“It’s wonderful how blessed we are in this community,” said Withers. “We are truly grateful. It’s more than words can express.”
If the church gets more meat than the program requires it will help other agencies, Withers said.
“There’s so much need out there.”
The shed doors were repaired but all food donations are now stored at another location, Layne added.
Anyone with information about the theft is urged to anonymously call Sarnia-Lambton CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477.