KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The Thrive ministry helps at-risk youth, from Kindergarten all the way up to seniors in high school, in over three different programs. The ministry provides academic, emotional, physical, and spiritual assistance to nearly 250 students throughout Knox County across five different campuses. 

The ministry has been hit hard since January of 2021 with eight catalytic converter thefts at three of their Knoxville campuses. New Hopewell is the most recent victim having converters from three of their vans come up stolen this week alone bringing the total number stolen to eight. The continuous theft is making it hard on the organization to uphold their mission to the families they are assisting.

“All of the money that we raise goes towards the kids and goes towards providing food for them,” said Thrive grant writer Holly Kizer. “So, when we have something like this that costs about $7,500 to repair vans. That’s really not in our budget and it takes away from the programming.” 

Thrive does not collect any government funding, so it is hard for them to take money away from the ministry to get the vans fixed. The vans are sometimes the only mode of transportation from school to the program and then home. The loss of a van makes it much harder to shuttle the kids around to the areas where they need to go.

“The families that we serve really depend on Thrive,” Kizer said. “We take care of their kids and provide the academic support that they need. We provide meals for the children every afternoon after school and when we are faced with something like this we aren’t really able to provide the programming that the families we serve are counting on.”

If anyone has any information about who is possibly responsible, please reach out to the Knox County Sheriffs Office at 865-215-2243.