Mosque receives community donations after being robbed

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BLACKSBURG (WSLS 10) - A week after a mosque in Blacksburg was robbed of hundreds of dollars, members say they have received more than three times what they lost in donations from the community.

Members say most of that support has come from people they didn't even know.

The Islamic Society of the New River Valley serves communities from Blacksburg to Radford to Christiansburg, offering support to families in need, including two families of Syrian refugees that have newly settled in Blacksburg.

Members thought their efforts might have to be put on hold after a man broke into the building and stole money out of the collection box last Saturday, but the Blacksburg community came to the rescue.

Khaled Adjerid says the mosque's main day of prayer is Friday, and they hadn't had a chance to empty the collection box before the unidentified man came in Saturday morning.

"He came in, looked around, made sure there was no one around, went back, grabbed his tools, took all the money and left," said Adjerid.

Adjerid says it was a shock to everyone to find a broken collection box with the money missing, but security camera footage revealed what had happened.

"He made away with, what we think, based on previous estimates, was between 800 to a thousand dollars worth of money that we had been collecting for a new HVAC system, for general upkeep of the mosque, and for families in need, including a couple Syrian refugee families that we have," said Adjerid.

It was a loss Adjerid says would have set the mosque back, until one member got the idea to ask his family for support.

"He set up a Go Fund Me page, sent them the link, and went to class. Came back a few hours later, not having checked Facebook or anything, opened the Go Fund Me page and found that it raised nearly four thousand dollars, so he was really surprised and really excited," said Adjerid.

Wit donations pouring in, the mosque quickly shut the page down, as it had already received more than three times what was lost, but Adjerid says there was more than just monetary support.

"More important than the money that was raised by the campaign was all the messages of support," said Adjerid.

And in the end, Adjerid says no one at the mosque bears the man who took the money any ill will.

"We've been doing our best to, not to vilify this man. He seemed like someone who was in need. A lot of the members of our congregation are in need, a lot of the people in this area are in need," said Adjerid.

Adjerid says he hopes in the future, people will know the mosque is a place where anyone can ask for help.

While Adjerid says the congregation at the Islamic Center is putting the incident behind them, Blacksburg Police do still have an ongoing investigation to find the man responsible for the theft.

If you have any information about the case, you are encouraged to call the department.