Community rallies to save Christmas after Grinch steals thousands of donated gifts from Toys for Tots – WTOL


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Northwest Ohio Toys for Tots, Hancock County Sheriff Department filled two donation boxes, while others stepped up donating toys and money.

TIFFIN, Ohio — 'Tis the season for giving. 

WTOL 11 recently covered a Grinch who stole from kids in need, taking off with thousands of donated gifts from the Toys for Tots Findlay chapter. For the last six years, Coordinator Larry DeVelvis has been happy to the do work, but this understandably upset him. 

"I had a storage unit and they took all of those toys out. There were 40 toy boxes full," DeVelvis said. 

Thieves made off with 2,000 toys last month. But DeVelvis was not deterred.

"We're going to be good. We're going to get this done. I promised the people we would," DeVelvis said.

The community rallied behind the chapter. The Hancock county Sheriff Department filled two toys for tots donation boxes, while others stepped up donating toys and money to help DeVelvis purchase new toys to replace those stolen.

He said Hope House and The Salvation Army will receive over 1,200 toys from them. Additionally, SAFY, a nonprofit foster and adoption agency in Tiffin, received 461 toys, 168 books and 163 stocking stuffers from Toys for Tots. 

SAFY Treatment Director Anna Nagy was beyond thrilled.  

 "It feels great," she said. "The holiday time - Christmas time - can be a very triggering experience for youth that are in foster care."

The office was filled with board games, stuffed animals, dolls, backpacks, and soccer balls. The main conference room became an area where creating piles of toys was vital so that all 150 children the nonprofit serves open something special on Christmas.

Estrella Alveraze, SAFY's foster parent recruiter, has parents that fostered children for 20 years. She knows first hand how hard the holidays can be. 

"I remember being in elementary school and children coming in, in the middle of the day on Christmas Eve, with just the clothes on their back. The rush to have presents for them to open up," Alveraze said. 

She added those that have the option to do more should think about donating their time to a child or children in need of a home. The pandemic has greatly impacted the foster care system, causing a large influx of children and not enough families to care for them all. 

SAFY has admittedly had to turn children elsewhere because they didn't have room.

"Tis the season to foster a child," Alveraze said. 

Thus, whether you can give your home, your time, or a donation, DeVelvis said everyone's focus is about making sure kids don't feel forgotten

"To be able to provide for the kids that we are able to bring into our homes, it means the world to us," Nagy said.  

In Hancock and southern Wood County there are 125 Toys for Tots donation boxes. Additionally, there are 100 more throughout northwest Ohio. But, if you'd like to donate from the comfort of your own home, Toys for Tots has a virtual donation option, click here.

Also, SAFY needs donations for their children, blankets, clothing, toiletries, toys and more. For ways to donate to them, click here.

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