By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Public helps replace stolen gifts
Placeholder Image

Volunteers at the Veterans & Community Outreach Foundation say they are hugely relieved by the public response to the theft of about $6,000 worth of Christmas gifts last week.

On Dec. 15, an intruder broke into the C.C. Cloud Youth Center, stole the donated presents and vandalized the facility.

As word spread about the theft, an outpouring of people stepped forward to make things right.

Organizations and individuals from across the state made dozens of donations to replace the gifts and clothing for needy children.

"It's a blessing. The community came together," volunteer Ann Rucker said.

On Wednesday, more than 30 children trickled in to the center to pick up their gifts, which included bicycles, board games and action figures.

Others stopped by to add to the donations that day.

Michelle Mintz and her nephews Malcolm, 7, and Derrick Lowe, 10, took a drive to the toy store after they heard the news. The children picked out the board games Candyland and Yahtzee, among other toys.

"I thought it was not nice to steal all those toys, so we got some more," Malcolm said.

The Rev. Victor Johnson said the break-in came as a shock, and he was outraged someone would steal from young people.

The intruders also ruined doors, computer monitors and printers in the center.

The organization is still collecting children's clothing in sizes 6X to 16. While the toy donations have been significant, many of the clothes still need to be replaced, Johnson said.

The Veterans & Community Outreach Foundation, which was founded by five Vietnam veterans in 1985, is a second family for many children in the community, Johnson said. Part of the organization's mission is to help children whose parents are incarcerated and battling addiction.

"We help take care of them and keep them focused on school," Johnson said.

Johnson also hopes local residents will keep the organization in mind year-round, as the center operates on a lean budget.

The investigation into the theft is ongoing.