Volunteer suspected of stealing $4,300 from nonprofit

Kids Cooking Corner works with low-income, special needs youth

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A nonprofit cooking school for kids said it was ripped off by a volunteer who used $4,300 in the organization’s banking account for her own personal use.

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office is investigating but no arrest has been made.

About 33 volunteers with the Kids Cooking Corner, 5206 N.E. 78th St., work with kids, including low-income and special needs kids, during cooking classes held four nights a week.

Heidi O’Connor founded the organization three years ago. She underwent surgery in February and handed over the reins to a volunteer who was then responsible for buying groceries. She trained the volunteer and gave her a debit card for the purchases.

“I totally had my trust in her,” O’Connor said.

When O’Connor returned, she noticed that her organization’s bank account seemed low for how much money they were taking in from donations and the cost of classes. Her bookkeeper quit in August, admitted she hadn’t been keeping track of money spent and left her with receipts.

As O’Connor started pulling the receipts together, she found out the volunteer used the debit card to buy gas, fast food and clothes, even using the card during a trip to Texas. At stores, she would buy a couple of items and receive cash back that she allegedly pocketed.

“I couldn’t even believe it,” O’Connor said.

When confronted the volunteer left the debit card and a check written by her boyfriend for $700 — the amount O’Connor originally thought she took. However, the organization’s new bookkeeper pulled all of the bank records with the account number on it and discovered the total of misused funds came to $4,300 over a five-month period.

O'Connor estimates the organization's monthly expenses at $3,300. If she can't find a way to get back the money lost, she fears the organization will close.

An online fundraiser was organized on Crowdrise, which can be found at http://www.crowdrise.com/kidscookingcorner. Those interested in helping out the Kids Cooking Corner can also visit http://thekidscookingcorner.com/donate/.