Thursday, December 21, 2000

Stolen gifts replaced - tenfold


12 families to have 'best Christmas ever'

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        TAYLOR MILL — Thieves didn't steal Christmas from Hilltop Church of Christ.

        The congregation has been inundated with donations since someone burglarized the Taylor Mill Road church this past weekend — taking gifts under a tree intended for needy families.

[photo] Hilltop Church of Christ youth minister Jason Wells (left) and Sara Herald, chairperson of the churchıs "Reach the Children, Reach the World" program, pack wrapped gifts into boxes for dsitribution to needy families
(Patrick Reddy photo)
| ZOOM |
        “It is overwhelming,” said Jason Wells, the church's youth minister. “We probably have 10 times more gifts than were taken, worth 10 times the money. Our van is full of gifts, our sanctuary is full of gifts, our foyer is full of gifts, our basement is full of gifts.”

        The donations will still go to the 12 needy families the church originally set out to help. But with all the added donations, church officials said they can now fulfill all the needs of the families.

        “We can now do immeasurably more than we could ask for or imagine,” Mr. Wells said.

        He said the families will be receiving Christmas gifts, food and clothing.

        “Now we are piling it on,” Mr. Wells said. “We are now trying to make it the best Christmas they have ever had, will ever have.”

        Police are still investigating the Saturday night burglary. Thieves entered a lower-level window and ransacked church offices. About $100 was taken from an office and about 30 of the 40 gifts under a tree were unwrapped and stolen.

        Since the burglary, Mr. Wells said, the church has received hundreds of gifts. He didn't have a dollar value on all the donations.

        All the new gifts will have been removed from the church by today so they can be given out to the families. And Taylor Mill police said they are patrolling streets because of a string of residential burglaries last year at Christmastime.

        Mr. Wells said: “God has taken something tragic and made it glorious.”

       



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