At first, the reaction in DeBary was outrage and surprise.
But the community quickly rallied behind Genuine Bistro, offering cash and other forms of support after vandals smashed a window at the popular restaurant on U.S. Highway 17-92.
Then it took another positive turn when Genuine Bistro owner Olexiy Kuzmin proposed using the cash donations for another residents’ effort to help feed the needy.
The support surfaced Sunday as word spread about the as-yet-unsolved vandalism at 2 S. Charles Richard Beall Blvd. from the pro-community Facebook page DeBary Proud. Tipsters can contact authorities through these links or by calling 1-888-277-TIPS.
“I am so sorry this happened, what a disgrace, ” Vickii Davies-De Marco said in a post Saturday shortly after the crime was announced.
One Facebook user, Denise Glickler, was so moved, she set up a GoFundMe page to raise donations to help Kuzmin pay for repairs.
He thanked Glickler but asked her to close the fund-raising site.
“Our customers (have) been very loyal and supportive to us for years and I really don’t think it’s necessary. I really appreciate it,” he wrote. “But I really don’t feel like (collecting) money from people for our building issues. I am still DeBaryProud and I know that a lot of people in our community have more problems (than) our broken window. Thank you so much for your support again.”
By the time she got the message, more than $140 had been raised toward the fund’s goal of $500.
“Greg Runge will receive this check for his new project of feeding homeless people in our area,” Kuzmin said in another post.
Kuzmin posted video from security cameras showing possible suspects but the images don’t reveal many details. Facebook responders posted theories about who was responsible.
“There are 2 boys that run the street constantly with no supervision,” said Keri Kay. “The one is super skinny and taller the other shorter and a little thicker. .. The VCSO knows them very well…”
Meanwhile, other Facebook posters offered comforting words and introspective thoughts.
“This is not a reflection of DeBary, nor the times we live in,” Vera Rekstad said. “This is sadly the perpetual dark and ugly side of human nature which exists everywhere on earth and in all times since the beginning of history. We must overcome it and counter it with good. It’s great to see so much positive support for our friends and neighbors.”
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