Donations help local Toys for Tots replace gifts for kids in need on Christmas

Local sports store joins list of businesses digging deep to help save Christmas.

EVANS, Ga. (WJBF) – The area Marine Toys for Tots can begin distribution Monday after several local businesses stepped up to help save Christmas for thousands of children. Dollars began to pour in after the local coordinator of the organization told NewsChannel 6 the former warehouse was burglarized.

“We have to shop Friday, Saturday, Sunday and do some shopping too Monday as well,” said Grace Anderson who is down to the wire after the crime.

She joined almost everyone racing into stores ahead of Christmas to gather toys for kids. But hers is one shopping spree unlike any other.

The toys purchased by Anderson at Academy Sports + Outdoors in Evans will replace thousands of dollars worth of stolen ones already earmarked for kids in need.

“When we went back that day, we almost found an empty warehouse,” Anderson said of October 20. “We had pretty much like little things that were left, but majority of the big items were taken.”

Anderson filed a report with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office October 26 stating someone went inside the old Winn-Dixie store on Gordon Highway and removed several items, including 58 bikes and $25,000 toys. Several businesses stepped up and donated money and toys to help fill Christmas trees for girls and boys.

“Academy Sports is dedicated to helping out the community and so once we heard about what happened with Toys for Tots and their theft, our company decided to step in and help out,” said Logistics Manager Robert Gastiaburo.

Anderson accepted a $1,000 donation from the sports store that offers plenty of toys such as scooters, nano drones and bikes. Lots and lots of bikes. Enough to replace more than the 58 stolen with the $5,000 donated from national radio host Bobby Bones.

Gastiaburo added,  “They’ve enlisted us to build and have ready for them 200 bikes for the holiday season.”

And while the burglars can’t skate their way out of the incident because the Sheriff’s Office is investigating. It will still be a Merry Christmas for all.

“The children are absolutely going to love it,” Anderson confirmed.

Toys for Tots is not done yet cashing in on those lost toys.  Augusta Building Trades donated $41,000 to Toys for Tots.  Anderson told us she will shop with that money Friday morning at Toys R Us.

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