Approximately 1,500 toys earmarked for needy children this Christmas were stolen from locked PODS (Portable On Demand Storage) containers in Burlington, Mass., on Dec. 18. The news sent St. Joseph/Harvest of Hope Food Pantry and other local charities into a panic, but the community rallied to save the day.
After about $15,000 in gifts―mostly expensive electronic items for older children―were stolen from storage containers in a warehouse parking lot, the St. Joseph pantry worried that it would not be able to fulfill its promise to provide toys for 700 of the 800 families on its list. Though it received emergency donations from other organizations, it only had toys for children ages 0 to 5.
As soon as he heard the news, pantry chairman John Boris began contacting local businesses for last-minute donations. The U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots said it would attempt to replace the order but could give no guarantees.
Community members pitched in to help. A middle-aged couple donated $500 to the pantry. Another couple gave more than a dozen Walmart gift cards. Countless others came in with toys, clothing and other gifts.
Toys for Tots also received an outpouring of support in response to the theft. As of Dec. 21, the program had collected $65,000 in donations, including a check for $15,000 from the CEO of a South Shore software company.
The theft is being investigated by state and Burlington police.