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.