The giving spirit prevails

Published 10:55 pm Monday, December 22, 2008

Despite his efforts, the Grinch couldn’t steal Christmas, after all.

Earlier this month, thieves broke into the Toys for Tots warehouse in Suffolk and stole dozens of gifts for children in the area, including bicycles, MP3 players, digital cameras and men’s watch gift sets.

The community was shocked and appalled by the break-in, but they were not alone.

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Producers from Fox News heard the tale and wanted to feature the story as part of its “The Grinch Stole Christmas” program.

John Woleben, the Toys for Tots coordinator for Suffolk and Portsmouth, appeared on the program, and he says the results have been “overwhelming.”

Since the program aired on Dec. 13, Woleben said, donations have poured in from all over the country including California, Washington and Illinois.

Woleben said that after the program aired, he even received a donation from a Suffolk resident who lived in the same neighborhood as the warehouse.

“(I’ve been) pleasantly surprised, in fact, overwhelmed,” Woleben said. “It was heartwarming to have that kind of response.”

Woleben did not give an exact figure, but said the more than 30 donations from across the country have brought in “several thousands of dollars” to benefit the Suffolk Toys for Tots program.

“It shows that there are many, many more good people than the bad people that took the toys,” Woleben said.

So far, the Suffolk Cheer Fund, which benefits Toys for Tots, has raised more than $30,300.

Following the break-in, new locks have been put on the entrances to the warehouse and other new security measures were added. No arrests have been made in the case, but if anyone has information on the case they can call 1-888-LOCK-U-UP.