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Community rallies for Toys for Tots after heist

Posted at 5:56 PM, Apr 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-11 20:56:29-04

Three C-train storage units holding an estimated $25,000 worth of items for Toys for Tots were broken into Saturday night.

The units were completely empty when Gary Jackson, Master of the Green Dragon Masonic Fellowship, who partner with Toys for Tots, went to look at them on Sunday afternoon.

"Here you've got an organization that serviced over 18,000 children just at Christmastime alone and it takes a pretty low-life person to target an organization like that," said Jackson.

Three other units were tampered with but not broken into.

While Toys for Tots is trying to recover from the heist, it isn't keeping their spirits down.

"In every storm there is always a rainbow and that rainbow is our community and we've been able to get a lot of donations and fundraisers through the community," said Thuy Vi Vu, the local coordinator for Toys for Tots.

"So we've been very blessed."

The blessings are coming locally, like Marc DeLeon, owner of Mad Dog Tattoo and mayoral candidate for Bakersfield's upcoming election, who runs his own Christmas toy drive called Phantom Santa.

"Man, I can only imagine what it's like for them because I happened to run out on the very last toy and the last person got the last toy," said DeLeon.

"If I didn't have that one toy, I would have felt devastated so I can imagine how they feel right now."

DeLeon reached out to Toys for Tots to tell them he would help.

"I already got people writing me that I'm going to be having boxes from Amazon. Maybe I can fill one of those C-Trains because I think I would have been pretty good with what I did at Christmas to help fill one back up."
 
Help is also coming from out of state, as Johnny Jimenez, a toy expert on Pawn Stars, drove from Las Vegas to help 19th Street Antique Mall set up a fundraiser.
 
"It's a tragedy that somebody stole those toys that were going for a good cause so we came out here to raise some awareness and make a donation ourselves," Jimenez said.
 
He partnered with 19th Street Antique Mall owner Nick Avalos to donate $10,000.
 
"It's awful that somebody was able to steal those toys and take away all those happy smiles that it would have made an impact on all those kids."
 
If you would like to donate, you can visit Mad Dog Tattoo or 19th Street Antique Mall during business hours. 
 
On Wednesday, Jimenez will be in front of 19th Street Antique Mall to meet with donators. 
 
Bakersfield Collector-Con will be held June 4th and will run a special promotion to help Toys for Tots as well.
 
For anyone who like to donate and help Toys for Tots, click on this link, or you can contact Thuy Vi Vu at 661-427-3827.
 
To learn about the Green Dragon Masonic Fellowship and their work with Toys for Tots, click here.