It is the kind of crime many small business people fear, and hope they never encounter.
As he locked the door to on Wednesday January 18, Yong Yang had cash in his pocket to buy wholesale produce the next morning at the produce depot in Philadelphia.
As Yang climbed into his delivery truck, he was jumped by two robbers who dragged him out of the driver's side door.
Easttown Police Chief David Obzud tells Patch two teens, 18-year-old Octavio Sandoval, and a 17-year-old accomplice "displayed a knife" and punched Yang in the face. It was a devastating blow that shattered the 72-year-old grocer's glasses and caused extensive injuries to his left eye.
It also set off a chain reaction within a business community shaken by the brazen and brutal attack.
As police set out to find the two teens, word spread rapidly within the Berwyn business community.
A Community Springs into Action
At , owner was immediately moved to mobilize help for Mr. Yang. It started with a conversation with her friend Stacy Ballard of . Ballard is friends with Yang's daughter Chae. "We were just talking and each of us figured that if each of us asked 10 businesses that we know for $100 we could easily raise $2,000 right there without thinking about it."
Cuthbert and Ballard started their impromptu fundraising drive without even knowing exactly what Yang's medical expenses or financial needs would be.
Mark Morroney, who graduated from with Kim Cuthbert in 1988, says the fundraising effort is a blessing that is meeting a real need in Yang's current situation. Morroney is Yang's former son-in-law and has been a integral part of Yangs Market for the past 14 years. He is now keeping the market going while Yang recupperates. "What (Kim's) done is over, just over and above and beyond," Morroney tells Patch. "She was on it right from the beginning, she approached me the next day."
Morroney says the Jazmines owner knew that even if all of Yangs medical expenses would have been covered, a small business can't afford to lose an employee, let alone the owner/manager. Plus, Morroney points out, Cuthbert knew there would be all the expenses related to just getting to medical appointments. "The cost of parking alone in Center City Philadephia (where Yang is being treated) is $25 per visit." That adds up quickly and it's not covered by medical insurance.
Meeting a Big Need
It turned out Yang has Medicare, but not enough supplemental insurance to meet all the costs of a delicate six-hour eye surgery, treatment, and recovery. Cuthbert and Ballard didn't know any of that when they started asking for donations. They just went into action. "It's just the right thing to do," Cuthbert says.
Cuthbert's mission didn't stop there. As the owner of one of the region's busiest and most popular pastry and bake shops, she knows a thing or two about bake sales. Cuthbert decided to start one in her shop to raise money to help Yang. "We started without even getting our costs out of it, just literally sending 100 percent of the proceeds to him. (In one week) we've probably raised $800 just here, not counting the donations from the other businesses."
As the word has spread through Facebook, Twitter, and Patch, donations have kept coming. Sweet Jazmines has featured a different 'bake sale' item every two days or so, keeping customers coming back for more and to help the cause. In just two days (January 25 and 26) customers bought more than 100 pounds of bake-at-home sweet potato cake batter at $15 per pound. Several others simply donated cash to help. All are invited to sign a get well card for 'Mr Yang.'
Cuthbert says the community has been 'amazing'. somebody made an announcement at their spinning class (Thursday) morning. Four or five people came through and said, 'We didn't know about it, we heard about it at class,' some other people came in and said they saw it on Patch, actually," Cuthbert tells Patch.
Inspiring a Community
Sometimes it's not what you do, it's what you start. Sometimes it's both. Cuthbert and Ballard have inspired business owners, customers and political leaders. Marc Heppe is an Easttown Township Supervisor and on the Board of Directors of Easttown Neighborhood Watch. "It's a wonderful show of what a community can do when tragedy strikes," Heppe says. "Everybody pulls together. It's good to see"
Yang will have at least a six month recovery period when he will not be able to drive a commercial vehicle. He may never regain full sight in his left eye again. "This will have a life-changing impact on Mr. Yang" and Yang's Market, Morroney says.
Cuthbert plans to continue fundraising through her 'bake sales' at Sweet Jazmines.
"All of us (in small businesses) are out there trying to work and here's somebody who came over to live the American dream, worked hard, 70 plus years old on top of that and just as nice as can be. So we need to do something."
Octavio Sandoval remains in Chester County Prison on $100,000 cash bail. His 17-year-old accomplice is also jailed on $75,000 cash bail. Sandoval is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on February 1 on numerous felony and midemeanor charges.