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Danvers Police Say $4,000 in Donated Toys for Charity Stolen

Less than 24 hours after thousands of dollars worth of donated toys for local children were stolen in Danvers, residents and businesses are rallying together to replace the toys with new gifts.

There's a growing pile of replacement toys at the police station. Credit: Courtesy Danvers Police Department
There's a growing pile of replacement toys at the police station. Credit: Courtesy Danvers Police Department
Danvers police say thieves stole $4,000 worth of donated toys on Wednesday night that were intended as Christmas gifts for local kids from low-income families.

The donations were collected at Toys R Us for the annual Toys for Tots program run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and retired Danvers police officer and Korean War veteran Bert Russell was storing them in a storage container outside his home.

Russell lives on Andover Street near the Middleton line and is a member of the Essex County Marine Corps League Detachment, which gathers the local donations each year from different collection sites.

The league commandant, Danvers resident Ray Jalbert, tells the Salem News it's unclear exactly how many toys were stolen -- possibly 200 -- but four boxes of toys were taken from Russell's locked storage box.

Police say they're still investigating the theft and, according to the Salem News, the suspect vehicle is a large, dark-colored late model vehicle. Russell reportedly saw the vehicle in his driveway that day, but thought it was someone dropping off a donation.

The Danvers Police Department shared news of the theft on its Facebook page, which quickly saw numerous comments from residents expressing outrage and disgust.

"That is horrible...I don't know how people sleep at night knowing what they have done," said one commenter.

"There are no words to describe how low someone can be to steal from kids at Christmas!" another person said.

People have also been quick to start replacing the toys with new donations. Danvers police say anyone looking to donate can drop off toys at the station or at Fire Headquarters.

Firefighters will also be outside Walmart on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. collecting donations for Toys for Tots.

"Less than 24 hours after the theft of Toys for Tots, we are overwhelmed with the generosity we have seen so far," read the latest Facebook update from police Friday afternoon accompanied by a photo of donated toys.

Green Elephant Toys in Danvers Square is also pitching in by donating a pile of toys directly to replace the stolen donations. An email to customers Friday said the store would be open late all weekend and customers could receive a discount for any toys purchased to replace the stolen ones.

Schylling Toys says it's also donated a huge pile of toys to Green Elephant's Danvers store as part of the effort.

Police say they've also received numerous requests about purchasing toys online for the effort or making monetary donations.

Checks can be made payable to "Local 2038" and indicate it's for "Toys for Tots" in the memo line. You can then mail or deliver it to Danvers Fire Headquarters, 64 High St., Danvers, MA 01923 to the attention of Lt. Brian Barry.

Toys purchased online can be shipped to: Toys for Tots, c/o Danvers Police Department, 120 Ash St., Danvers, MA 01923.

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