Donated gifts stolen from Elgin children's center

December 19, 2011 (ELGIN, Ill.)

The Larkin Center in Elgin collects Christmas gifts every year to distribute on Christmas day to close to 200 children at risk associated with the center.

The gifts were stored in a trailer parked in the 1200-block of Larkin Avenue behind the center. On Wednesday, someone broke into the trailer and stole half of the Christmas presents inside.

"They came on a Wednesday and I had about 300 gifts. They took about half of them," said Larkin Center's Claudia van Delinder. "The last three days I have been barraged with people calling and wanting to help."

"I don't know what kind of person takes Christmas from people who have nothing," said Milchelle Potter, Larkin Center's chief operating officer. "It is an awful thing to do. We all is a real mean-spirited thing to do at Christmas. Who does something like that?"

Elgin police believe someone entered the trailer by opening an unlocked window. Police have no one in custody.

Susan Olafson of the Elgin Police Department states that they continue to investigate this unfortunate incident. She asks that anyone with any information contact the police and that this can be done anonymously.

"I worry about the adults and what they will get on Christmas days if those gifts do not get replaced," said Potter. "They look for dishes and pots and pans and towels."

The Larkin Center, in existence for 116 years, has eight group homes and is often the last resort for children and families with nowhere else to turn. It gives individuals the tools they need to eventually live independently.

"I think I cried most of the day on Thursday," said van Delinder. "I could not believe it, but we still have to provide a Christmas and move forward."

"It is the one day of the year where the kids get a little bit of relief from their lives," said Potter. "Getting up in the morning and actually having a Christmas is important to them. They do not have families. We are their families for the moment."

If anyone wants to help out they can go to for information on how to give or on how to report the incident anonymously.

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