After the terrible theft, the community decided that they needed to do something to make Christmas memorable for disadvantaged children.
Every child deserves to have a merry Christmas. But now, the festive day might not be as cheerful for some of the boys and girls from disadvantaged backgrounds in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
The Salvation Army in Tuscaloosa were all set to deliver gifts worth thousands of dollars for children in need in their community. But they felt gutted when they walked into their warehouse one day to find that the toy donations were stolen. The thieves took away what is estimated to be four truckloads worth of gifts, which included toys, clothing, and other items meant to make Christmas brighter for little children who truly needed a helping hand.
The miscreants managed to break into the warehouse through a small window, in the garage backdoor. Major Brenda Shafer spoke about the incident and said, "They busted over the lock and whatever was there to secure our garage opening." And the thieves took gifts that were worth $6,000, as reported by WWLP.
"As we opened the doors we were just devastated," said Shafer said, according to ABC 3340. "It saddened our hearts to see that the toys would be gone for the boys and girls in this community. Who would steal from kids? It made us sick."
These gifts were meant for children who were picked off the Angel Tree program and not receiving a gift on Christmas day can break their little hearts. "...The hurt that you see behind their eyes, it has an effect on you," said Lt. Teena Richardson from the Tuscaloosa police department. The police are investigating and hoping to find the thief or thieves soon.
After the shocking incident, the security at the warehouse was tightened and the warehouse was set to be guarded 24x7 until the gifts would be handed out to the children.
Once the news of the stolen gifts got out, local businesses in the community decided to step in. After all, it was for something that could make a world of difference in the lives of children in need.
"To take away from disadvantaged youth is just terrible," said Jake French from The Filling Station said. Jake mentioned that in a matter of days, one of his managers was able to raise $1,200 for the kids. "So after that she went out and bought all kinds of wonderful and beautiful toys for the children so that way their Christmas would still happen," Jake said.
The Filling Station put up a post on Facebook that said, "After hearing about the terrible theft of the @salvationarmytuscaloosa Angel Tree program, Our Employee @kimmy_lynn1 (who personally headed up the effort and fundraising) Along with our regulars collected in Donation over $1,200 in 1 Day, (we are still taking donations!) we have a whole sleigh load of Toys to deliver for Christmas!!"
Although there was a major setback in the initial plan, the community came together to help turn things around.
Shafer, who is grateful for the local business who came to support them after the theft, said, "It’s amazing how a community steps up and helps." She expressed her gratitude for all the donations that were made and the toys were set to be distributed on December 17, 2019.
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