There are scrooges during the Christmas season, and then there are downright villains.
The First Congregational Church at the corner of Central Avenue and Beach Street came face to face with the work of a villain this past weekend when they discovered that more than 70 gifts for their annual childrenâ€™s toy drive had been stolen by an intruder.
The church has undertaken the volunteer Toy Drive for decades, and Dyane Amuzzini and Cathy Sena have been heading up the effort for the last 15 years.
Last Sunday, though, they found the dark side of the Christmas spirit.
â€œWe happened to be going into the closet where we keep the gifts on Sunday after church and we noticed that they were all gone,â€ said Amuzzini. â€œIt was total shock. I couldnâ€™t believe it. I donâ€™t know how else to put it. Itâ€™s sad because there were needy kids waiting for these gifts and most of them were given by people who are themselves in need and sacrificed what little they had to give to the Toy Drive.â€
After the discovery, those at the church filed a police report and detectives are investigating the matter right now.
â€œWeâ€™re not sure what happened,â€ she said. â€œWe locked the door and set the alarm, so we donâ€™t know if someone hid inside the church or what.â€
Amuzzini said that they had a list of 500 or so kids this year that needed Christmas gifts. Luckily, they had distributed gifts to most of those on their list Saturday afternoon.
However, they didnâ€™t get to everyone and those that were left over were stolen, leaving the organizers in a quandary.
â€œWe were pretty much wiped out and exactly 71 gifts were stolen,â€ said Amuzzini. â€œWe donâ€™t know what to do now. We donâ€™t know whether we should call those remaining on the list and tell them we canâ€™t deliver them any gifts or whether we should try to get donations between now and Christmas.â€
For now, she said that they are putting out a call to the community for donations to help them finish their list.
Anyone wishing to donate can bring a new toy by the church office at the corner of Central Avenue and Beach Street. Those wishing to make a monetary donation can also help out. For more information, call Amuzzini at (781) 272-7266.
She said they are especially in need of gifts for children ages 12 and up, though they will accept any donation.