Luton Salvation Army is appealing for the public’s help after sacks of toys were stolen from the church during a burglary.
The charity is now appealing to the public to donate toys to replace the ones due to go out for disadvantaged youngsters this Christmas.
Luton Salvation Army, on Vicarage Street, Luton, was broken into at 4.50am on Saturday, November 17.
Major Ralph Walker said: “It is with great sadness that after reviewing all CCTV footage of the break in we can reveal that the burglar did take a lot of the brand new toys which were reserved for the 600 plus children and families that we support at Christmas.
“We work with the council, social workers and other organisations across the town to provide toy parcels to families that are really struggling. Last year we made 655 toy parcels and each parcel contains four or five toys.
“The man who broke in took a number of large bags full of toys, so we are struggling for toys now, in particular teenage boys and girls but any donation will really help.
“We know he entered our building at 4.52am on Saturday 17th and left at 5.19am, if anybody was around the back of Luton Salvation Army at those two times and saw a white man in a Parker coat and a dark baseball cap please could you call 101.”
Any donations need to be in by Friday, December 7, so Luton Salvation Army can sort them into parcels to be delivered.
The charity has been overwhelmed by the response from the public, following an appeal on social media last week.
Chantry Primary Academy in Lewsey Farm and Whitefield Primary School in Marsh Farm will be doing a toy drive to help replace the stolen toys.
Executive Headteacher of Chantry, Cori Bateman said “When the team and I found out about the burglary we were all appalled by the cruelty of it.
“Our schools promote the values of love and friendship, so it is a natural response to want to help in this terrible situation.
“Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could do better than just replace the stolen gifts and help even more families?
“For our team to be a part of making Christmas better for these families is a beautiful thing and I’m impressed with the generosity of our staff team and their families.”
Major Ralph Walker said: “From the bottom of our hearts we can not thank people enough for their generosity.
“The response has been really amazing, so fantastic. People are so amazing and generous, we never expected the appeal to go as far as it has.
“It really does restore your faith in humanity, it is hard to explain how happy it makes you.
“The news of a toy drive from the two schools in Luton is fantastic, we are really grateful.”
People who would like to donate toys can drop them off at The Entertainer or The Salvation Army Charity Shop, both in The Mall, alternatively they can bring them to the church.
If anyone would like to buy a toy from the Amazon wishlist they can visit: http://amzn.eu/dUOFOqL and it will be delivered to the church.
Police investigating the burglary have released CCTV images of a man they would like to speak to as he may have information about the incident. Anyone with information is asked to call 101, quoting reference 40/38189/18.