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Englewood, Chatham, Auburn Gresham

After Toy Drive Items And Computer Stolen From Josephine’s Southern Cooking, Community Steps Up Again To Help

"This was just vindictive," said matriarch Josephine Wade as she fought back tears.

Victor Love leans against the wall in his family restaurant.
Victor Love
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CHATHAM — Victor Love is practicing grace.

The latest break-in at his family’s restaurant, Josephine’s Southern Cooking, was a hard blow at the end of a year that gave him and his mother so much to celebrate.

And though this isn’t the first time the restaurant at 436 E. 79th St. has been hit, (a burglary in 2018 forced them to briefly close their doors) this time hurts even more, since the offender is one of the many young men he’s mentored over the years.

Dyshon Harden, 18, was arrested Wednesday afternoon, several hours after removing the deadbolt safeguarding the restaurant storeroom, kicking the door in to steal food, televisions, bikes and toys that were being collected for a toy drive.

Still, Love believes there is a chance that the young man, who once asked Love to pray with him when facing a stressful personal situation, will redeem himself and try to make amends.

“I don’t want to kill him. I want to bop him upside the head and ask why he did what he did,” Love told Block Club Thursday afternoon. “I can forgive. We’re supposed to forgive. I can’t forget, though.”

Aside from the toys, Harden took a computer, one that has been in the back office of the family-owned restaurant for so long that Love can’t remember when it was first purchased.

“My whole life is on that computer,” said Josephine Wade, fighting back tears, still heartbroken. “He took the things that he knew would shut this business down for good.”

People told Wade that she should’ve been insured, but she said the insurance company told her it would be a waste of her money, because her stuff is “old.”

“I’m just done. I’m tired,” said the matriarch, who’s due to have surgery in a few weeks. “I’ve raised four generations of kids in this community. As long as I’ve been here, none of them have broken in here or tried to rob me. This was just vindictive.”

According to Wade, Harden decided to take revenge after her son refused to let him borrow cash from the register. He didn’t get what he wanted, she said.

But once again, the community they have lovingly nurtured over the decades is coming to the rescue, because that’s what family does.

Rev. James Meeks, the former state senator who heads Salem Baptist Church, was the first person to call the family, extending a special invitation to his Far South Side church Sunday, teasing a surprise.

Then came Keisha Williams from Fulton Grace Realty, Monica and David Poland of Re/Max Properties and Midwest Equity Mortgage, all of whom are teaming up to help with a toy drive starting at noon Dec. 17, at the restaurant.

Percy L. Julian High School’s alumni network is also pitching in, hosting a toy drive of their own at the restaurant Dec. 18 – 20.

And people are still welcome to come to the restaurant to drop off toys between now and Saturday, Dec. 21, the day of the giveaway.

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