Bridgeport church receives toy donations following theft

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BRIDGEPORT -

Christmas came early Wednesday for a holiday charity recently targeted by thieves.

Nearly two weeks ago, nearly 1,000 toys were stolen from Greater Bridgeport Christian Fellowship's Toys for Tots program. The drive has more than made up those lost donations thanks to the generosity of the people in the community and beyond.

A Massachusetts business owner with no connection to the church or Bridgeport made some donations. Lucas Burnely says his mother-in-law saw the story of the theft on the news and he felt compelled to do something.

Burnely made a 200-mile trip and brought $45,000 worth of toys to the church. He said he was already doing a toy drive in his hometown and decided to split the money raised, giving half to a community he'd never been to.

"With the holidays, you don't want someone to have to choose between buying food and buying their kid a toy," Burnely says.

Burnely and his family bought the toys in eight days. The toys include musical instruments, dolls and sports equipment.

"I feel like a kid because when I get to go through and get excited about buying Legos that I couldn't have, or some toy, that's exciting," Burnely says. "It's the most fun. Like, who wouldn't want to do that?"

And the giving didn't end there. Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim presented a check for more than $2,000 to Toys for Tots. The money was raised by city employees in response to the theft.

While News 12 was at the church Wednesday, someone walked in the door with a $1,000 check.

An estimated 6,500 children in need will now get two gifts this Christmas thanks to the generosity of others.

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