Donations replace stolen toys at Toys for Tots

Response to the weekend theft of 1,000 toys from a Toys for Tots warehouse has been overwhelming, organizers said this afternoon.

The Marine Corps has received enough donations today to replace all those toys.

"Toys for Tots greatly appreciate the community's response. We are 100 percent. We completed our mission for this year," Gunnery Sgt. James Watt said shortly after noon today.

He said they have enough to replace the toys that were lost. He would not say how much has been donated today.

For Watt, the phone calls began at 5:30 this morning from people wanting to know how they could help.

"We've had well over 100 phone calls," he said as the battery faded on his phone.

The governor and first lady announced that they were donating $1,000 of their personal funds to Toys for Tots in Wichita. They encouraged others to donate as well.

Many others have pitched in, including an anonymous donor who gave $5,000.

The Rev. Mike Stockwell, committee chairman of the Wichita area 2009 Toys for Tots program, said people can still donate gifts at Marine Corps donation boxes in area Wal-Marts or at Davis Moore Automotive at 6205 E. Kellogg, through Friday. To make cash donations, call Stockwell at 316-300-0204.

Sometime between 4 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday, thieves broke into the warehouse of the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots and took more than 1,000 toys.

They apparently picked a lock on the barrier gate, threw open an overhead door and ransacked box after box meticulously packed and ready for distribution.

"That's really about as low as you can get," Parkinson said.

Lt. Barry VonFange of the Wichita Police Department's burglary section said anyone with information about the crime should call the burglary section at 316-268-4141 or Crime Stoppers at 316-267-2111.

Toys stolen include MP3 players, makeup kits, footballs, basketballs _ even Fisher-Price toys for infants, VonFange said.

The thieves left evidence behind, VonFange said. Police are also checking to see if there is surveillance video from surrounding buildings that may provide clues.

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