Toys for Tots program seeks donations to replace stolen items
BRIDGEPORT — A robbery has left a local Toys for Tots program lacking thousands of dollars worth of playthings that were supposed to be donated to needy families — roughly a week before those toys were supposed to be delivered.
Now they’re hoping a holiday miracle will help refill their stockings.
On Saturday, someone broke into a series of storage containers in the parking lot of the Greater Bridgeport Christian Fellowship Church and stole roughly $80,000 worth of toys, said Jerry Martinez, co-director of Toys for Tots in Bridgeport.
“It was mostly toys for kids age 7 to 14,” Martinez said. “Remote control cars, skateboards, Barbies, LOL dolls, board games. That stuff took the biggest hit.”
He said the toys were to be donated to families and organizations in Bridgeport and multiple surrounding towns — including Trumbull, Stratford, and Monroe — on Dec. 15.
Now that the inventory has been gutted, the organization is struggling to get enough toys to donate to the 1,500 families it serves. Martinez said Toys for Tots is still trying to hit its Dec. 15 distribution goal, but it may need to make some adjustments if there aren’t enough toys in time.
On Monday, Martinez said Toys for Tots had already gotten multiple offers of help.
“We’ve got lots of individuals who have reached out to get us donations,” he said.
At least one local business has also extended a helping hand — Wonderland of Ice in Bridgeport. Wonderland owner and general manager Lisa Fedick said she was heartbroken by the news reports of the Toys for Tots break-on.
“That church is near the rink,” she said. “This just isn’t right.”
Fedick said Wonderland has donated $2,000 to Toys for Tots to help replenish the toy reserves. Wonderland is hosting its own toy collection program Dec. 16 — a day after Toys for Tots is supposed to distribute its items to the needy. But Fedick said if Wonderland collects a surplus of items, Toy for Tots is welcome to them.
Fedick said programs such as these are essential to making the holidays magical for children.
“I think it’s so important for kids to feel loved and feel that people are looking out for them,” Fedick said.
Those interested in donating to Toys for Tots can call 203-726-3614 or 203-726-3610, or visit https://bridgeport-ct.toysfortots.org/local-coordinator-sites/lco-sites/default.aspx.