Organizers of a Toys for Tots drive in Seattle have been left devastated after a Christmas Grinch broke into a facility storing over $6,000 worth of gifts for needy kids and stole nearly everything.
Nichelle Hilton, who works at the East Cherry Branch of the YWCA in Seattle, told ABCNews.com that last week she and her team purchased $6,250 worth of gifts at Toys ‘R’ Us. That’s $25 allotted for each of the 250 kids they’d been funded for through the local Rick Rizzs Toys for Kids program.
On Friday her team decided to store the toys in a temporary location at an unused homeless shelter unit while they waited for a truck. But when Hilton went to check on the toys on Monday, they were gone and all of the boxes had been torn to shreds.
“We’ve confirmed with everyone that the doors were locked,” Hilton said. “There are no signs, but all doors were wide open yesterday morning. We spent everything last week — the core 99.9 percent of the toys that were going to help all of the families.”
Police investigating the theft are now going through surveillance footage, but Hilton said that only includes the front of the building where the toys were stored, and there was a door open in the back. They’re also interviewing residents in the neighboring shelter homes, which Hilton said include young parents, domestic violence survivors and recent immigrants.
As they check online for people selling the toys, Hilton has been left wondering just what the thief will do with all of those gifts.
“I said, ‘How are you going to get money for that Easy Bake Oven?’ I wonder what’s going to happen next,” she said.
She is also focusing on securing the toys that have come in since the robbery with additional cameras and security personnel.
“The cost of protecting these toys, there’s no price limit for me,” she said.
Seattle Mariner broadcaster Rick Rizzs, who has been running fundraisers for toys for many years, promised that all of the stolen toys will be replaced, and Hilton said that they have received a lot of support from people in the area.
“The calls have been amazing,” she said. “People in the community have said they’re going to donate, bring in a Barbie. It shows that good always wins.”