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Community Steps Up After Thieves Loot Toys for Tots

It’s the lowest of the low. Thieves posing as volunteers stole approximately $5,000 worth of toys from a children’s charity drive this past Monday.

It happened at the Summit County Toys for Tots in Akron, Ohio. Surveillance footage showed the thieves loading bags and boxes full of stolen goods onto waiting trucks. According to Fox 8 Cleveland, police have identified the suspects. However, they have yet to make an arrest.

“It was disheartening. Unfortunately, this happens. It is not the standard for this community,” said Staff Sgt. Phillip Greer.

Traci Higgenbottom-Williams, director of the Summit County Toys for Tots program, was completely devastated when she discovered what happened.

“It tears me up because this process just doesn’t start in December,” Higgenbottom-Williams explained. “I start in January to make sure the kids get the best. I don’t give them anything I wouldn’t give my kids when they were small. So when you take from them, it hurts me. Makes me angry.

“Right now, we have over 15,000 children in Summit County and the surrounding areas. It means a lot for some of the kids. This is all they have,” she added.

But the story does have a silver lining. Shortly after the news broke, donations started pouring in by the truckload.

On Thursday, representatives from the Akron Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 dropped off their own special delivery in the hopes of making up for some of the stolen goods. Online retailer Ebay also pledged a $5,000 donation.

“I am so overwhelmed over how everyone is stepping up in the community,” Higgenbottom-Williams said. “People have been dropping off toys, checks. We’ve gotten emails about donations people are making through our Toys for Tots site. It is just outrageous.”

In the end, what began as a heartbreaking story became a heartwarming tale—just in time for the holidays.

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LeBron James Accepts Philanthropy Award from Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce

On Tuesday, LeBron James accepted an award of honor from the Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce. The H. Peter Burg Leadership Award was presented to Mr. James in recognition of his leadership and many philanthropic efforts in the city of Akron.

James began his NBA career with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003. In 2010, he signed a contract with the Miami Heat, where he played for four season and earning two national titles. After four seasons with the Heat, James returned to Cleveland to finish his basketball journey that began at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron.

LeBron James
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“This award is not mine, this belongs to you guys, the 330 Ambassadors, the I Promise kids,” James said. “Every day I wake up and it’s my motivation. If I go out and do something that’s not right, they may look down on you and that’s not right. I refuse to let you guys down.”

LeBron James founded the LeBron James Family Foundation. Its biggest project in Akron has been the I Promise program, designed to encourage Akron public school students to pledge to do their homework and listen to teachers and parents.

Aside from their work with the I Promise program, the LeBron James Family Foundation also partners with Wheels for Education, The LeBron Advisory Board, Boys & Girls Club of America, Time to Promise, and St. Vincent- St. Mary High School for a wide variety of philanthropic events in the Akron area and abroad.

James, like many philanthropists, is partially inspired by his deep personal beliefs. In basketball circles, he is known for making controversial stances on topics like the Trayvon Martin case, former NBA owner Donald Sterling’s racist comments in 2014, and the Michael Brown verdict. Additionally, he donated $20,000 to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008.