BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WTNH) — Thousands of dollars worth of donated toys were stolen overnight from the Bridgeport East End Food Pantry Christmas Eve, but the Christmas spirit in the community couldn’t be squashed by a couple of Grinches.
Bridgeport police responded to a burglary call about 6 a.m. Wednesday morning at the Bridgeport East End Food Pantry.
According to the responding officer, $1,500 – $2,000 worth of donated toys were taken from the pantry overnight. Those toys were meant to be delivered to children in need on Christmas Day.
Keith Williams heads the food pantry and told News 8 the burglars got inside by breaking in their glass front door.
“They went in and took the toys and everything.”– Keith Williams, Bridgeport Food Bank
But the spirit of Christmas day was saved by some of “Santa’s helpers.”
Williams was working overnight at the fire department when he found out what happened.
Immediately, he sprang into action and called around to everyone he knew to help out: “Senator Bradley, State Rep Andre Baker, Councilwoman Anita Baker, Ernie Newtown, Pastor Lloyd.”
Bridgeport residents, political leaders, church leaders, business owners, neighbors, and angels from all over the city of Bridgeport came together to fill the pantry from foundation to roof with toys.
Eric Torres coordinates Toys for Tots in the area. He brought boxes and bags of their own donations to spread the love and cheer.
“One of the things that they couldn’t do was steal our spirit and joy of Christmas.– Eric Torres, Marine Toys for Tots, Bridgeport Coordinator
And believe it or not, the morning was merry. A song and smile from every child whose Christmas was saved.
“It’s good. I had clothes today, I have a backpack: everything I want,” one of those children told News 8.
Wanda Simmons of East End Community Council was so grateful that her granddaughter was able to receive toys from the food pantry this Christmas.
“My granddaughter got some toys, yes. It was a whole well of people and we are so appreciative of how the community came together,” said Wanda Simmons of East End Community Council.
“They tried to ruin Christmas, but God is good and we made it through,” added Keith Williams, Bridgeport Food Bank
Police released this statement Wednesday regarding the burglary and the heartfelt community response:
“Immediately, Santa’s helpers, John Vazzano and Bill Schietinger, sprung into action and will be delivering donated toys to those girls and boys so they can have a very special Christmas Day.
Through these immediate actions, what began as a tragic incident has now spread to a holiday cheer. On behalf of all of our agencies please have a safe and Happy Holiday.”– Bridgeport Police Department
The suspects in the burglary have not yet been identified.