A charity that helps the poor and the homeless in Surrey is having a hard time fulfilling its mission this year, after thieves stole the organization’s van on New Year’s Day.

“It’s a van that kind of goes to the community, goes to local grocery stores, picks up food items, blankets, etc., so it’s very essential,” said Mary Anne Connor, founder and president of Nightshift Ministries.

“We’re kind of limping without having it right now,” she said.

The white van was discovered in Surrey on Saturday near 77th Avenue and 135th Street. Police were still fingerprinting the vehicle on Sunday, so the charity hadn’t been able to see it, but Connor said she’s been told it’s badly damaged.

“It sounds like it’s not going to be repairable,” she said. “Its side panels are ripped off. I mean it’s just a mess. We can’t drive it. So it could be days. It could be weeks before we’re up and running again.”

Nightshift Ministries received the van as a donation last year, and it quickly became a “critical” part of the work the organization does.

That work includes helping people like Ken Smith, who has been struggling with homelessness on-and-off for four years.

“They’re there when you need them,” he said of Nightshift. “It’s just a good place to go.”

Nightshift’s van is not the first to go missing this holiday season. Just before Christmas, a truck from Sources Food Bank in Langley was taken. It was later recovered with significant damage.

In that case, some local businesses jointly donated a replacement vehicle. Now, Nightshift Ministries is hoping the community will step up to help them as well.

With files from CTV Vancouver’s Michele Brunoro