Burglary and low donations threaten Christmas for thousands of children

Children could go without because someone stole toys from Toys for Tots.

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The local chapter of a national organization issued a call for help to restore Christmas to thousands of children in the CSRA.  It happened at the previous storage site of the Marine Toys for Tots.  Coordinator Grace Anderson spoke with NewsChannel 6 about what took place.

“As you can see we only have enough to probably do about four agencies and normally we service a total of 85,” she said.

Only a handful of agencies can expect to see toy deliveries from the local Marine Toys for Tots. Two months before Christmas someone nearly wiped the warehouse clean.  An incident report filed with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office states the burglary happened between October 18 and October 20. Anderson told the responding deputy she and Toys for Tots employees moved some items from the warehouse inside the old Winn-Dixie on Gordon Highway on the 18th, and when they returned found out several items were missing.

“They stole 58 bikes, about $25,000 worth of toys, they stole desks, computers, chairs,” Anderson said adding Marine clothing and plywood was also stolen.

Very few toys remain. Just a handful of bikes and a few boxes of toys. In the midst of the frustration, Anderson received some good news.  Nationally syndicated radio host Bobby Bones heard the story of the crime and he said he’s going to donate $5,000.

Bones said during an on the phone interview with DuBose, “I screen a lot of news and I saw the story and it was nothing more than ‘Wow there may be kids that don’t get a bike for Christmas who don’t normally get a bike and maybe that was their only present.'”

The Nashville based radio host said he’s been to Augusta a few times and even attended a Masters tournament. But knowing that children will be without toys was a truth that hit home.

“I grew up very poor without a mom,” he described. “My dad had a lot of addiction problems. Without people like church groups and people stepping in I wouldn’t have been able to have Christmas.”

Anderson said donations this year are down too. She told us sites that normally collect such as Walmart usually bring in about five boxes. But this year, it’s down to one.

“We actually have about 12,000 boxes out,” she reassured. “They’re not filling them up.”

To donate to this cause, visit the warehouse at 1545 15th Street in Augusta.  Anderson said monetary donations as well as toys can be accepted.  She added that monetary donations help because Toys for Tots can receive discounted toys for Toys R Us.  Donations can also be made through the Toys for Tots website here.

Toys for Tots will hold an event at S.H.A.R.P.E. Shooters in Augusta Saturday at 10:00 a.m. Shooters are asked to bring a toy worth $10 or more.

Photojournalist: Gary Hipps

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