FARMINGTON, NM—Residents in the Farmington-area of northern New Mexico donated gifts and money after someone stole a Salvation Army van filled with $6,000 worth of toys for children, according to officials.
“This won’t be a victory for The Grinch,” Lieutenant Christopher Rockwell of the Salvation Army told The Associated Press on Saturday.
Rockwell said business leaders and others began donating after vans marked with gifts for more than 350 children were stolen from outside a store on Tuesday.
Rockwell said the donation included “a lot of toys, a lot of clothes” as well as hygiene items and cash, certainly adding more than enough to replace the stolen items for the children who died on Monday at a hospital. Signed up for the delivery program. “We have a waiting list … so we can see what we have left.”
The generosity showed “compassion and the people here for each other in their hearts,” Rockwell said. “It’s a huge blessing beyond comprehension.”
Farmington Police said on Saturday that an arrest warrant has been issued for a 37-year-old man believed to be a suspect in the theft.
According to the police, the van and the toys have not been recovered yet and no arrests have been made nor any possible motive has been determined.
Rockwell said he suspects a pickpocket stole van keys from a Salvation Army employee in the store.
“I think it was just some wicked, dishonest person who just saw an opportunity,” Rockwell said. “Desperate, I understand it, but to do so is beyond imagination.”
The Salvation Army is a Christian organization founded in 1865 in London. It is active in over 100 countries and is known for its charity shops, homeless shelters and disaster relief.