Non-profit's van burglarized; Toys, electronics stolen - WKRN News 2

Non-profit's van burglarized; Toys, electronics stolen

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

The invitations have been sent, but an event sponsored by Cottage Cove Urban Ministries may fall short of expectations this year.

The non-profit, Christian organization hosts Christmas with Dignity, a gift-buying program benefiting at-risk children where parents are invited to shop a makeshift store set up at the organization's small facility on Benton Avenue in the Vine Hill District.

"It's called Christmas with Dignity because it's cents-on-the-dollar pricing, where they can say 'I paid for this' by just paying a few cents for something that would cost so much more," said Executive Director Brent MacDonald.

The store stocks everything from basic necessities like clothes and winter coats to play things like toys, games, and bicycles. All of the items are donated or purchased with monetary donations.

On Friday, MacDonald spent the evening shopping for the store, stocking up on toys and electronics. Overnight, the vehicle used to transport those items was burglarized.

"(We) get back late last night. (We) were going to bring it in here today to get ready for the store. (And) this morning, our vehicle had the side window smashed out of it and the items were all gone," MacDonald said.

Thieves got away with remote control vehicles, drum sets, and various other toys.

Police departments across middle Tennessee warn shoppers not to leave valuables, including gift purchases, in plain sight in vehicles, especially this time of year.  

MacDonald admitted to Nashville's News 2 that what happened to the program was most likely a crime of opportunity, but he simply can't understand who would rob kids at Christmas.

"As much as they think they may have a need for it, these were 'the least of these,'" he said.  "These were kids that wouldn't otherwise have Christmas if we don't have these items to be able to provide these for them."

The gift-buying program has grown 30% since last year, with children in need identified through the organization's year-round activities or from local schools.

The families of more than 300 children have already been invited to participate in this year's Christmas with Dignity event, which is scheduled to begin next weekend. The store will open as planned, but help is needed to restock what was stolen.

"If we replaced the items that were taken, it would be just amazing. It would be such a blessing because we'd be back on track for seven days from now," MacDonald said.

Anyone interested in giving to Cottage Cove Urban Ministries' Christmas with Dignity program can make a donation at the facility located at 630 Benton Avenue in Nashville. Donations are also accepted through PayPal on the organization's Web site.

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