Arlene Liebert — a survivor of non-Hodgkin lymphoma — placed a plastic collection container on the counter at the Stadium Wash & Detail car wash in Mastic a couple years ago.
She visits the car wash every few weeks and donates whatever is in the container to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. But when she arrived to collect the money earlier this month, she was told the donation box had been stolen.
Liebert wasn’t surprised by the theft. She has been placing donation containers at businesses around Mastic for years, and money has been stolen before, she said. But Anthony Gusmano, who owns Stadium Wash & Detail, said he felt “personally responsible” when he learned of the stolen donations — so he decided to hold a fundraiser to make up for the loss.
He estimated there was about $100 in the container when it was taken.
“Arlene’s such a wonderful woman. She breaks down in tears every time she comes in to count the money,” Gusmano said. “It’s just horrible. I’d rather he had stolen some of my air fresheners, or just come in and ask me for a job.”
Gusmano will donate $2 to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for every car washed at Stadium Wash & Detail on Sunday, Aug. 21, he said. Gusmano, 33, of Wantagh, said the business washes about 200 cars on an average summer Sunday, so he hopes to be able to donate around $400.
“I’m hoping this horrible thing can help bring the community together to support Arlene’s cause,” he said.
Liebert started placing Leukemia & Lymphoma Society donation jars around the community in 2012, according to a spokeswoman for the organization, when she was recovering from her own cancer battle.
“Because I’m a cancer survivor, I feel the need to take the hands of all the people behind me who are still fighting,” she said. “I’m doing my small part until we find a cure.”
Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers at 800-220-8477. All information will be kept confidential.