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December 7, 2013

Danvers receives outpouring of donations to replace stolen toys

DANVERS —  The day after word got out that someone had stolen up to $4,000 worth of donations for Toys for Tots from a storage container at the Andover Street home of a Korean War veteran and dedicated volunteer, people and businesses from all over stepped up.

A room at the police station on Ash Street began to fill with new, unwrapped toys.

Police Sgt. Olivia Silva said yesterday morning that the station was getting lots of calls from those who wanted to give toys or send money to replace them.

Fire Capt. Kenneth Reardon said the Fire Department on High Street, which has been collecting toys for Toys for Tots for about 10 years, has been busy accepting toys.

“There has been a steady stream of people donating money and unwrapped toys throughout the day,” said Reardon, who said he could not say whether the uptick in donations was a result of people trying to replace the stolen toys. Word of the theft, however, probably brought to mind the need for toys for less fortunate children at Christmas, he said.

Lt. William Carleton said police are still investigating the theft, which took place sometime Wednesday evening. The reaction to the crime was summed up in one word on the department’s Facebook page: “Horrible!”

Online reaction quickly turned to those wanting to help. The Police Department’s Twitter feed showed that people are committed to replacing the toys, with several saying they had placed orders for toys online and were shipping them to the police department.

The donations were reportedly stolen when a storage container was broken into at the home of Bertram Russell, a former police officer in his 80s. He’s been collecting toys for the program for 20 years. Police only have the description of a large, dark-colored late model vehicle as being involved.

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