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JERSEY CITY -- Donari Mosby had collected more than 3,000 pairs of socks for the homeless this year but when a small fraction of them were stolen from her parents' vehicle Friday, she was devastated.
"It wasn't a lot of socks, but they help people," said Mosby, a 15-year-old Jersey City resident who has been collecting socks for the homeless for four years now.
But lucky for Mosby, off-duty Port Authority police Detective Anthony Cutrone spotted a man trying to break into several vehicles near 16th Street and Jersey Avenue and placed him under arrest, police said.
Port Authority police spokesman Joe Pentangelo said Eric Rourk, 48, of Union City was busted with two pairs of new women's high heeled shoes, two bags of new socks, gloves, scarves, and hats, as well as a pipe with drug residue. Authorities then determined it was Rourk who had broken into the Mosby's vehicle outside their home in Newport earlier, Pentangelo added.
Donari's mother, Kimberly Mosby, said her daughter was upset "when she learned someone stolen the items but we let her know that they got them back...It was only a small amount but it still mattered to her because she is trying to help people less fortunate."
The Hudson County Prep student makes sock collection boxes and contacts friends, family, organizations, churches and others asking if they would like one so they can collect socks for the homeless.
In her first year of donated socks to the needy, she collected 100 pairs. This year the number grew to more than 3,000.
The items are then delivered to the Garden State Episcopal Community Development Organization for distribution to shelters, food kitchens and other places where the homeless have access to them.
The socks were traditionally made available on Christmas but this year Kimberly Mosby delivered the items Monday afternoon, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Donari was motivated to help the homeless after participating in a Girl Scouts seminar. She had previously broken records for Girl Scout cookie sales.
Kimberly Mosby said that when her husband retrieved the stolen items from police: "The detectives were just in awe when they learned what the socks were for and that someone so young could be doing so much community service."
The girl, who has straight A's at school and hopes to be a dentist, said sometimes she thinks of the warm feet of homeless people she has helped.
"It makes me feel very happy because there's a lot of homeless people out there and in some type of way, doing this makes me think I'm a good person. I just felt like, if I can help someone in some type of way, then I would.
"I thank the police very, very much."