ENGLEWOOD — For weeks, Mothers Against Senseless Killings (MASK) Founder Tamar Manasseh has been working with Upton’s Naturals and other community volunteers to throw a Christmas party for kids in the neighborhood.
Donated toys have been pouring in and the Christmas tree was ready for lights — until a storage container used by MASK was abruptly towed away from the 7500 block of South Stewart Avenue.
The container was filled with not only materials for MASK’s planned Block Academy, a community resource center that will give teens and young adults the opportunity to finish their high school education, but also with a Christmas tree and all decorations for the Dec. 24 toy giveaway.
“That container had been sitting there for over a year,” Manasseh said Tuesday. “It wasn’t bothering anybody.”
Manasseh said that the container had been taken a city auto pound at 103rd Street and Doty Avenue. She has no idea how much it will cost her to get it out, nor does she know for certain that any of the contents inside are still intact.
“It’s probably all crushed,” she said.
Flowers for Dreams donated a tree to the corner, but it was in the container.
“We were so excited because now we have electricity so we don’t need battery powered lights. The lights, the ornaments & the home made big light up M are in that missing blue container, so is the Santa suit and everything we need for the #MASKHolidayBash,” Manasseh wrote on Facebook Tuesday night. “The Toy Drive toys are safe.”
It’s been a rough year for Manasseh and the MASK team. Multiple volunteers for the group were shot over the summer, and she was recently forced to temporarily close her Beverly restaurant, Peace of Pizza, due to health issues.
Manasseh’s life and work are at the center of a new documentary, They Ain’t Ready For Me, premiering in New York City next month.
“We finally acquire some of what we need to help create community, normalcy, joy and hope, and just like that, everything we’ve invested in is impounded for no notice, no apparent reason, with no respect for the hard won contents, the hours of volunteer time and donations that went into it,” Manasseh wrote Tuesday night. “This is really depressing.”