Young woman steals a hospice donation box

Yreka, Calif. — A donation box usually inspires us to put money in it.

But police say one teenager in Yreka decided she wanted to take the money for herself.

Store manager Cheryl Fontanoza says she and a volunteer pinned 18-year-old transient Madison Cordova down just a block away from the hospice store.

“Stay right there. I have a gun and I’m taking the money.”

Those are the words store manager Teresa Woodward never expected to hear on a Monday afternoon; words that put her in a situation she never imagined.

A young woman was set on taking Madrone Hospice thrift shop’s donation box.

At first, Woodward was frozen in her steps, but then her instincts kicked in.

“I grabbed one hand with the phone here and I’m trying and I’m yelling for Cheryl and dialing 9-1-1 as she’s exiting,” Woodward said.

Woodward says Cordova ran, but a volunteer and the other store manager, Cheryl Fontanoza, weren’t far behind.

“I was gone, I was chasing her,” Fontanoza said.

A foot chase straight out of a movie, complete with people on the street showing where the suspect had gone.

When Fontanoza caught up with Cordova in a nearby alley, her volunteer already had the teen on the ground.

Fontanoza grabbed her arm.

“She was struggling like crazy and I just told her to calm down, calm down. And for some reason, she started to calm down,” Fontanoza said.

Fontanoza says as police were coming, the young woman started to cry.

“I asked her why she did it and she said she was homeless… and I said it wasn’t the right thing to do,” Fontanoza said.

While the store managers are glad no one was hurt and they are happy to retrieve the donations, they also have compassion for the suspect.

“I hope that this will turn her life around and wake her up and hopefully this will be a new start,” Woodward said.

The proceeds from that donation box and the hospice thrift shop give financial support for the terminally ill.

Madrone Hospice is holding its Light Up a Life donation event this Friday to remember those who have passed:


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