BUFFALO, N.Y. ( WIVB)- The Latin American Cultural Association in Allentown is out nearly a years worth of donations due to a weekend burglary.
You might not notice it while walking down Elmwood Avenue, but the moment you step inside El Buen Amigo, you’re in another world.
The walls are covered in crafts from Central and South America.
Santiago Masferrer arrived in Buffalo from Chile as a political refugee in the 1980s. He opened the store as a way to promote cultural understanding.
Much of the artwork is done by former political prisoners, or indigenous people in Latin America. All of the profits raised by the fair trade store and outreach events go back to the artists and to the Buffalo community.
A hit like this one, he told News 4, has lasting effects.
He and his volunteers were raising funds to purchase more crafts; they kept the donation jar in the middle of the store.
Sometime Saturday, it was gone.
“When I returned here about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, a volunteer asked me, did you take the jar?”
Masferrer told News 4 nearly $1,800 was taken. He’s doubtful the suspects will be caught, or the cash returned.
“We can buy a lot of crafts with that money,” he said.
He’s been a business owner in the area for almost two decades. He said the most disappointing thing about the burglary, is that generosity from community members won’t serve its purpose.
The store is operated by volunteers and interns. Masferrer said the team is discouraged but hoping continued community support can keep their efforts going.
Anyone interested in helping the organization can mail or bring donations to 114 Elmwood Avenue, or call 716-885-6343.