Donor gives Toys for Tots $25K after alleged theft

December 20, 2011 4:29:33 PM PST
Despite losing $25,000 in an alleged embezzlement scheme, the Toys for Tots charity will be providing a happy holiday to hundreds of needy children in the Chicago area.

An anonymous donor has come forward and presented the group with a big check to cover the loss.

The alleged embezzlement scheme involved a volunteer, the wife a former board member, who allegedly embezzled the money. Bridgeview police have been investigating the case since April when Toys for Tots reported the missing money to police. The charity's president says board members uncovered the theft from one of their online donation accounts. Apparently, the volunteer had access to account passwords.

Since the news became public, donations have been pouring in. On Tuesday, many people came to the Toys for Tots Bridgeview warehouse to make a contribution.

Joe Ferro went shopping for toys Friday morning and donated them all to Toys for Tots Chicagoland. Joseph Zueg didn't have time to shop but pulled out his last $20 bill to help.

"I was compelled to come in. Something hit me in the gut," said Zeug.

"They lost a lot of money. I want to help some kids out anyway," said Ferro.

"It goes against everything this organization represents and most charities represent," said George Fortier, Toys for Tots Chicagoland president.

But Fortier has learned with the bad comes the good. With nonstop donations and phone calls, volunteers took pause when a generous anonymous donor gave a check for $25,000.

"To have them give you a check for $25,000 is enough to knock your knees out," said Janet Malpede, Toys for Tots. "We can now take care of the families that couldn't be taken care of."

And the large donations kept coming. Gary Bertacchi and Therese Foster were so moved by the loss of money they drove from Orland Park to drop of a $5,000 check on behalf of the Cord Vanderpool Foundation.

"It's a sad story. You hate to see this right around this time of year...When we saw it we both called each other and said we have got to go do something," said Bertacchi.

Toys for Tots Chicagoland collects and buys toys for disadvantaged kids across Chicago and the suburbs. The charity receives hundreds of letters from families in need. Each year in December the organization holds its motorcycle parade to kick off the giving season.

While the investigation into the theft has been ongoing, no charges have been filed.

Visit the website for Toys for Tots Chicago.


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