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Man Raises $45,000 To Replace Toys Stolen from Church Donation for Kids at Christmas

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Along with all the positive feelings the holiday season generally generates, there are uglier, less-kind feelings that are stirred up as well. Jealousy and greed are here to counter charity and generosity — but thanks to one giving soul in particular, kindness still wins this year.

Many organizations run toy drives for needy families. Maybe your work or church participates in Operation Christmas Child, Angel Tree or some other giving-back program.

You know the drill: You either get assigned a specific child who has a specific wish list or you buy nice gifts in a certain price range, and parents who fit the bill can come in and select what their children would like from all the choices.

For some families, these donations are all the Christmas they’ll have. When the gifts go missing, the holiday spirit is in jeopardy.

Greater Bridgeport Christian Fellowship Church in Bridgeport, Connecticut, had storage units full of Christmas for needy families. But then two horribly greedy people came in and cleaned out much of their inventory.

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According to WABC, the thieves stole around $8,000 worth of presents. A huge portion of the donations were swept away just like that.

Erica Mercer, one of the fortunate parents who’d already acquired her donated toys, said she knew what this loss would mean.

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“It breaks my heart,” she said, “because I’m actually a teacher and I work with lots of unfortunate children. And it’s very hard, it’s a hard thing.”

But a man named Lucas Burnley saw the story and was moved to do something for the kids who would otherwise be gift-less.

“There was a few times when I was growing up that I received toys from Toys for Tots, and so for me, it’s always held a kind of special place in my heart,” he told WABC-TV.

That special place in his heart became clear when he drove a U-Haul full of toys to the church. It took him eight days to shop for everything, and he raised more than $45,000 to go on his epic holiday shopping spree.

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Once he’d gotten as many toys as he could, he drove more than three hours to the church on Dec. 12 and made his generous delivery.

Though this story could have easily ended on a sad note, Burnley has not only reversed that, he’s also improved the original haul. Initially, the church was planning to give toys to over 6,000 kids — but now, over 6,500 children will get two toys apiece.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking