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(NECN: Tom Langford) - A grinch may have stolen Christmas for hundreds of children in Massachusetts. Just a week before Christmas, state police say someone stole thousands of dollars worth of toys collected for the Toys for Tots program.
"I never would have imagined this," said coordinator Arthur Enos.
He is the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Coordinator who discovered the stolen toys Saturday morning, when he and another worker showed up at this parking lot in Burlington, where the toys were being stored in PODs.
"We saw the toys strewn around the parking lot and when we got closer, we saw the POD door was open and we could see the toys that were missing," he said. "The POD was half to three quarters empty."
It is estimated the thieves stole 1,500 toys valued at more than $10,000. And they were picky about what they took.
"They did quite a bit of sorting," said Enos. "What they left behind were toys for younger kids, up to five years old. So they were looking for toys for older children, which are the ones we were desperately in need of, and probably the more expensive ones."
NECN was there last Wednesday, when a big delivery of toys was made to the Burlington site. With Christmas now just days away, these toys had all been sorted, and were ready to be handed out to needy children.
"I hope it wasn't for personal gain," said Enos, "but it looks like it might have been."
He says the Marines are working double time, trying to come up with new toys to ensure that every child who needs a toy will get one.
"We will go out and get toys somehow. Marines are pretty useful. We'll adapt to the situation and we'll get the toys out there."
The collection period for Toys for Tots already ended, so no more toys are coming in. However, organizers are going to try to buy replacement toys.
If you do want to help out, you can donate money. That's the best way to help, because that way the can use that money to purchase the exact toys that they need.