CLEARWATER — When God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window — or so it seems to Billy Hazellief, the program director at the North Greenwood Boys and Girls Club.
On Monday, he walked into the club's building and found the back door broken open, tables overturned and several thousands of dollars worth of flat screen televisions, computers and video game consoles stolen.
Then, at 8 a.m. Friday, Hazellief received a call from Rick Vaughn, the Tampa Bay Rays' vice president for communication. The Rays Baseball Foundation was interested in paying to replace the stolen equipment, Vaughn informed him.
"I told him directly: 'Rick, that just gave me the cold chills,' " Hazellief said.
Since the burglary over the Fourth of July weekend, the Boys and Girls Club on Phillies Drive has been trying to make do without the technology upon which much of its summer programming relies: interactive reading software on personal computers, DVDs for movie days and Wii Fit video games for fitness competitions.
Now the Boys and Girls Club will have all of that equipment back, and maybe a little more: the value of the stolen items was between $4,000 and $5,000, and the Rays Baseball Foundation is giving $5,000 to the club.
The foundation will present the check to the club and the campers on Monday. They plan to bring their mascot, Raymond, along with a couple of Rays players (presumably ones who won't be participating in Major League Baseball's All-Star Game on Tuesday.)
The Rays aren't the only ones who are opening up their wallets in response to news of the Boys and Girls Club burglary: Best Buy and the Sandpearl Resort on Mandalay Avenue have also committed to donating to the cause, Hazellief said.
And while the campers at the Boys and Girls Club surely will be elated to see the return of their beloved TVs and video games, Hazellief said, he's also been happy to see that the kids still enjoy their days at camp without the technology.
"Most of them already don't have a lot at home," Hazellief said. "We could have absolutely nothing in here, and they'd still want to come to camp."
Martine Powers can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4224.