Toy Theft From Texas Public Housing Triggers Massive Replacement Donations

Many families are suffering as a result of the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. In times when a family might have to choose between paying the electricity bill or buying Christmas gifts, parents feel a lot of stress. Many good Samaritans have donated to toy drives in 2020 in order to help struggling families put gifts under their trees. Here is a story of loss and triumph in a public housing complex filled with families who have been trying to cope with being able to afford housing, utilities, food and medicine.

What Happened At the Public Housing Complex

On December 20, the San Antonio, TX, housing authority noticed that more than 200 gifts that had been collected for the complex's children were stolen overnight. The theft occurred on the night before the toys were to be distributed to the kids. The disappointed staff trimmed their plans for helping the families to just a food basket and small stocking stuffers. They also publicized the theft in order to bring awareness of the local Grinch who took them.

About the Theft of the Toys

San Antonio Police were called to investigate a burglary in the community room at the Alazan Apache Courts housing complex last Saturday. It appeared that the burglary was limited to the theft of the toys, along with some electronics and other items that could easily be resold on the street. The event went on as the employees had planned, but children were given one gift instead of three. The staff at the San Antonio Housing Authority were upset by the theft. They have conducted toy drives for more than 25 years, and this was the first time toys were ever stolen.

The San Antonio Housing Authority Reaches Out for Help

The San Antonio Housing Authority shared the news of the theft on its website. The agency asked its patrons to donate gifts to replace the 200 items that were stolen. They also suggested cash donations in lieu of gifts because they can buy gifts to fill in the gaps for older kids, teenagers and babies. The community responded at a higher level than what the housing authority hoped it would receive. Hundreds more gifts arrived, then the total surpassed 1,000. Ultimately, more than 2,000 gifts were sent to the San Antonio Housing Authority for children residing in the public housing complexes.

Housing Authority Distributes Gifts

The staff started to sort the gifts on Wednesday, December 23. They allowed families to return on December 24 to pick up gifts for their children. The additional gifts allowed the San Antonio Housing Authority to expand the gift program across all of its housing complexes where children reside.

Stories of People Who Donated the Gifts and Money

All of the people who donated gifts or money had a different reason why. One, Amy Gonzales, had toys leftover from a toy drive she held at her business. She decided to donate the rest to the San Antonio Housing Authority after she heard about the theft of the toys. The thought it would be a great opportunity to show how she cares. Another person, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that they donated cash that they were going to spend traveling for the holidays, but the COVID-19 pandemic upended their travel plans. Some people donated toys because their own children have grown, and they no longer have a child to purchase gifts for at Christmas. Local grocery chain HEB donated $4,000 to help buy gifts for kids living in the San Antonio Housing Authority's housing complexes. Several churches donated hundreds of dollars, and a few small businesses also contributed.

Response from the San Antonio Community

According to Joel Tabar, who is the Director of Community Development Initiatives at San Antonio's Housing Authority, the community is a supportive one. He said that in this situation, individuals and business owners came together to save Christmas for the children who live in the housing complex. San Antonio residents, religious groups and local nonprofits raised more than $18,000 and collected more than 2,000 toys for the children who live at the Alazan Apache Courts housing complex. This complex is in one of the city's low-income neighborhoods. Tabar said that the San Antonio Housing Authority has never received so many gifts for children. The organization's staff now has enough gifts to share with more children in other public housing complexes. Tabar said the community's response was like a Christmas miracle.

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