Farmington-area residents of northern New Mexico donated gifts and money after somebody stole a Salvation Army van loaded with $6,000 worth of toys for children, according to authorities.
“The Grinch will not have this victory,” Salvation Army Lt. Christopher Rockwell told The Associated Press on Saturday.
Business leaders and others began making donations after the marked van with gifts intended for more than 350 children was stolen Tuesday from outside a store, Rockwell said.
The donations included “lots of toys, lots of clothing” as well as hygiene items and cash, certainly adding up to more than enough to replace the stolen items intended for children who are signed up for a distribution event Monday, Rockwell said. “We have like a waiting list … so we could see what we have left over.”
The generosity showed the “compassion and the hearts that people have for each other here,” Rockwell said. “It’s a massive blessing beyond comprehension.”
Farmington police said Saturday that an arrest warrant has been issued for a 37-year-old man who is considered a suspect in the theft.
The van and toys have not been recovered yet and no arrest had been made or a possible motive determined, according to police.
Rockwell said he suspected a pickpocket stole the van’s keys from a Salvation Army worker who was in the store.
“I think it was just some evil, unscrupulous person who just saw an opportunity,” Rockwell said. “Desperate, I understand that, but to do this is just beyond imagination.”
The Salvation Army is a Christian organization founded in 1865 in London. It is active in more than 100 countries and is best known for its charity shops, homeless shelters and disaster relief.