With Christmas less than two weeks away, police are trying to figure out who broke into an Atlanta community center and stole countless toys and gifts that were supposed to be donated to children for the holiday.
The thieves stole nine bags of toys and three racks of new coats that were collected for students of John Lewis Invictus Academy, community leaders said in Facebook posts after the break-in.
Our partner, Al Marshall and our partnership coordinator, @lorimichellemiller are smiling, but underneath the surface, they are heartbroken.
Ms. Miller went to the Butler Street Community Development today, only to find that all the Christmas toys and nee coats that had been purchased for our students—had been stolen. Nine bags of toys, three, full racks of brand new coats. These were for 40 of our school’s neediest students.
If you would like to donate, please each out to Al at Butler Street CDC, or to Ms. Lori Miller. Her number is 678.532.5835.
Thank you for helping us make our students days a little warmer and a little merrier. #NOW Atlanta Public Schools Erika Y Mitchell WSB-TV Audrey WashingtonPosted by John Lewis Invictus Academy on Monday, December 13, 2021
The incident happened at the Butler Street Community Development Center gymnasium on Jesse Hill Jr. Drive, according to an incident report.
The Butler Street CDC chairman had planned to meet with a John Lewis Invictus Academy representative Monday to pass along the donations, according to a Facebook post. When he arrived at the community center that morning, he saw that all of the gifts were gone.
“Everything they planned to give away as holiday gifts was stolen,” the Grove Park Foundation said in an Instagram post on Tuesday. “This, of course, included generosity toward many of our neighbors in Grove Park, including students at John Lewis Invictus Academy.”
The chairman told police he had last seen the presents about 3 p.m. Friday. According to the academy, the coats and gifts were collected with the intention of donating them to 40 students in need.
“We are devastated,” John Lewis Invictus Academy said in a comment on Instagram. “Our students needed these coats, and our families were depending on these toys. Middle school children are just that —children. They still play with toys, ride bikes, and bond with their family and friends over video games. We are doing what we can to replace and restore, but we truly need the kindness of others at this time.”
Police said there were no cameras at the community center and no signs of forced entry. All of the doors appeared to be locked, the police report said.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Atlanta police.