Community raises $75K for Habitat for Humanity Waukesha County after tool theft

NOW: Community raises $75K for Habitat for Humanity Waukesha County after tool theft

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – Habitat for Humanity in Waukesha County is thanking the community for donations that put their work back on track.

Tuesday, Jan. 30, was disheartening for volunteers at the Habitat site at Domenica Park, when more than $32,000 worth of tools and equipment were stolen from a trailer.

"Volunteers can't build homes without power tools and equipment to do that," said Melissa Songco, CEO at Habitat for Humanity Waukesha County. "We were kind of scrambling to figure out what happened."

They immediately reached out to the community for help, and the community delivered.

Overnight, Habitat in Waukesha received $10,000 in donations, and the phones kept ringing.

"The next thing we knew it, a week later, we've raised over $75,000."

More than double what they lost has been returned in donations.

"We had people coming and bringing duplicate tools," Songco said. "They had two power drills, they brought us their extra."

Along with neighbors, the Waukesha County Business Alliance reached out to construction partners to help.

"Just to be able to contact them, let them know what's going on and get them connected in, was really where we felt like we could serve the best, and it worked," said Robyn Ludtke with the business alliance.

More than a dozen companies responded, including Milwaukee Tool and Generac.

"Housing and workforce housing is so important to Waukesha County," Ludtke explained. "Anything that we can do from the business community to keep something like Habitat alive and well, we're going to do."

"I'm just overwhelmed by the generosity," Songco said.

As of Tuesday, Feb. 6, volunteers were back on site with drills in hand, pushing the affordable housing project forward.

"We're going to invest in some security, as you can imagine, both at our office and here at the build site, so this hopefully won't happen again," Sogco said.

The Waukesha Police Department is still investigating who's responsible for the theft.

Habitat asks neighbors near the site: if you see something, say something.

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