Published: 1/7/2020 1:38:00 PM
Modified: 1/7/2020 1:37:27 PM
NORTHAMPTON — The iconic bronze “Happy Frog” sculpture on Main Street that collects donations for a local soup kitchen was discovered broken into and stolen from during a collection last week.
Northampton Police Detective Lt. Craig Kirouac said a member of the organization that oversees the sculpture, the Friends of Hampshire County Homeless Individuals, Inc., came into the station at 1:30 p.m. on Monday to report the frog’s damaged lockbox and stolen money, which was first noticed on Friday.
It is unclear how much money was in the lockbox at the time of the theft, though Kirouac said it was last checked in early December. Kirouac said police are investigating the matter.
“I don’t know what the story is. Obviously it was someone who was really desperate for money,” said Rick Hart, president of the volunteer nonprofit. “Someone hit the handle, the handle is facing down and it’s supposed to be sideways. It’s too bad.”
Situated at the corner of Main and Center streets in front of the First Churches of Northampton, the frog collects money for MANNA Soup Kitchen, which provides hot meals to the community’s food insecure at St. John’s and St. Edward’s churches. Hart said donations to the frog total around $6,000 annually.
“We realized that, for a lot of our clients at the shelter, it was important for them to have food available,” Hart said. “We created the frog sculpture to help donate money for the soup kitchen.”
Hart said the frog typically receives more donations in the holiday months, which was when the theft occurred. He guessed there were several hundred dollars in the box at the time of the theft, “but who knows,” he said.
Collections from the donation box are not on a strict schedule, Hart said. The nonprofit collects money from the box “sometimes once a week, sometimes every couple of weeks,” Hart said.
The frog sculpture was installed in late 2008 and is adorned with a plaque that reads “feed the frog, feed the hungry.” But this isn’t the first time it has been stolen from or vandalized, Hart said. Stronger lockboxes were installed after two previous thefts from the frog and someone also poured glue into the lock in the past, he said.
As for the organization’s next steps, Hart said he still needs to consult with the organization’s board of directors to figure out a way to make the donation box more secure though he’s not discouraged by the theft.
“The “Happy Frog” will hop again,” Hart said.
Michael Connors can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.