A Manorville chapel is getting some extra help after one of its statues of Jesus was defaced, with funds streaming in from parishioners, area residents and an unlikely source — Pokémon Go players.
Vandals smashed the face of the life-size statue outside the Shrine of Our Lady of the Island in Manorville Saturday night — only weeks before thousands of Long Islanders will walk the Stations of the Cross there to commemorate Good Friday.
Suffolk County Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case.
David Ringhiser, 37, of Mastic regularly plays Pokémon Go at the shrine, which he said has several PokéStops — locations where players collect virtual items in the game. He created an online fundraiser Wednesday night to help fix the statue and shared it in Facebook groups for local Pokémon Go players.
“A lot of us play Pokémon Go there to load up on items. I think they are great to let us drive around or walk around there with no issues,” Ringhiser wrote in the description of the GoFundMe page.
Some schools, libraries or other public places, also considered hot spots for the augmented reality game, have been less welcoming to players who mill around their property, but not the Shrine of Our Lady, Ringhiser said.
“So I thought, why not help them out in a time of need?” he said.
Jennifer Rymer, 27, of Port Jefferson Station, donated $25 Thursday. She has played at the Manorville location only a couple of times but still wanted to help.
“I’m not really a religious person, but because the place is so nice and the Pokémon Go community is pretty into keeping the community safe and clean, I thought I’d give something,” Rymer said.
More than $2,200 has been collected, mostly from people who play the game, Ringhiser said.
The Rev. Pete D’Abele, an administrator at Shrine of Our Lady, said he hasn’t noticed the players, who walk the grounds with their eyes trained on their phones or drive slowly through the parking lot. So he was surprised when Ringhiser stopped by at the church Thursday morning.
“It’s good,” D’Abele said. “I guess he wanted to pay it forward.”
Several people have also donated through the church’s website and a couple have delivered checks, including a group of local firefighters. D’Abele said he’s not yet sure how much it will cost to fix the statue.
Ringhiser hopes to raise $5,000 for the repair.
“It’s a beautiful place and right now they have a garbage bag covering the statue. They shouldn’t have something like that there,” Ringhiser said. “We’re just trying to help.”