Thieves steal Christmas toys for poor children from Chelmsley Wood swap shop – Birmingham Live


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Thousands of pounds worth of toys and clothes collected to help struggling families at Christmas have been stolen from a charity in Solihull.

The swap shop at Meriden Adventure Playground was broken into overnight on Wednesday (November 24) with around £2,000 worth of new toys and donations taken in the raid.

The charity behind the Chelmsley Wood play area had planned to sell the gifts at a heavily reduced price to families in the area who can't afford to buy gifts this Christmas.

Read more - Can you help? - 20,000 Christmas presents target sought for #Brumwish appeal

Ali Wood, chair of trustees, described the break-in as "a punch in the gut" but said volunteers had been overwhelmed with donations and offers of support from members of the community.

She said: "Staff arrived on Wednesday morning and found the swap shop, which is an old shipping container, had been broken into. We were gutted.

"They had pulled some of the wooden cladding off, wrenched off one of the shutters, broken a window and when they still couldn't get in, they cut a hole in the roof.

"It was full of both brand new toys and second hand stuff. We knew a lot of families would be struggling over Christmas so we had planned to sell them on at a low price to make Christmas a bit more affordable.

Photo shows wooden play equipment at the playground

Meriden Adventure Playground in Chelmsley Wood

"It's a real punch in the gut because whoever did this has taken away the kind of stuff which could have made such a difference to a lot of families. Poverty is rife in this area."

She added: "We put a post on Facebook just to let people know what happened and the response has been amazing.

"A man who turned out to be a police officer set up a fundraising page - we didn't ask, he just did it - and that's raised over £3,000 already.

"It says a lot about our community because a lot of the people donating will be struggling themselves.

BrumWish 2021 aims to get thousands of Christmas gifts to young children in need across our city - the homeless, the vulnerable, kids in care and kids who have little.

This year's appeal is bigger and better than ever - because we have teamed up with our partners at #Toys4Birmingham, including Thrive Together Birmingham, the Birmingham Playcare Network, the Edgbaston Foundation and Birmingham Forward Steps.

Also involved are Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust, Barnardo's, Spurgeon's children's charity, the Springfield project in Sparkhill, St Paul's Community Development Trust and Your Local Pantry, which runs food hubs in 12 locations across Birmingham and the Black Country.

You can buy a gift from the #Brumwish Amazon Wishlist here.

Or you can collect and drop off donations of new and nearly new toys and gifts to special donation days at Edgbaston Stadium, B5 7QU, on Saturday November 27, Friday December 3 and Saturday December 4, from 11am to 3pm, where volunteers will be waiting to see you.

Brand new or nearly new, unwrapped gifts, books and toys for all ages will be accepted.

You can also donate cash, which will go into a fund held by a charity partner to use to plug gaps or buy specialist toys for children with additional needs. This is the link to make a donation.

"The notion that poor people are all scumbags is a load of twaddle. There's far more good people than bad."

To make a donation, visit the Go Fund Me page here.

Any money raised will go towards replacing the items stolen, repairing the swap shop and improving security at the site.

A spokesperson for West Midlands Police said: "We’re investigating the burglary and our focus is on making arrests and returning the stolen property to the charity.

"Anyone who can help us do that should message us via Live Chat on our website quoting investigation number 20/1907431/21.

  • See our #BrumWish Amazon wish list here

"Alternatively, you can tell the charity Crimestoppers what you know. They won’t ask your name or take any of your contact details. Call them on 0800 555 111."

As part of our #Brumwish appeal, BirminghamLive is collecting donations of toys and gifts for youngsters living in poverty across the city this festive period.

Donations can also be made via our Brumwish Amazon wishlist here.

Readers can also drop off their unwrapped, new or nearly new gifts in person at Edgbaston Stadium on Friday, December 3 and Saturday, December 4 between 11am and 3pm.

Stay up-to-date with the very latest news from the borough with our MySolihull email updates.

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