Anonymous Donor Gives $25K To ‘Toys For Tots’ After Theft

UPDATED 12/20/11 – 4:20 p.m.

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (CBS) — An anonymous donor helped save Christmas for the local Toys for Tots charity on Tuesday, after news a former volunteer embezzled $25,000 and left Christmas in jeopardy for many disadvantaged children.

The charity collects donations at its annual Western Avenue motorcycle rally, and at dropoff centers. But it also makes a bulk purchase of 20,000 additional toys, which this year was almost made impossible by the embezzlement.

Toys for Tots Chicagoland President George Fortier says the phones didn’t stop ringing after the public learned about the situation.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Lisa Fielding reports

“People have been coming here, dropping off toys and just heard about us and just went to the store and came here,” he said. “It’s amazing. … It will make them hopefully have a Christmas this year.”

An anonymous donor came in Tuesday with a $25,000 check to cover the loss and Chicago-based Groupon later matched that donation.

Donations can still be made to Toys for Tots at their warehouse at 8900 S. Odell Av. in Bridgeview.

Fortier says the thief had access to the charity’s Web site, and was committing the crime electronically.

“On our Web site, you’re able to buy some of this stuff, and I guess somewhere through the line, people were getting their product, and we were getting our money, but I guess we weren’t getting the money,” Fortier told WBBM Newsradio. “I’m kind of sore.”

At a board meeting Tuesday night, the charity will decide how to spend the $12,000 that remains — either by spending less on each child than usual but take care of the same number of kids, or by spending the same amount, but giving fewer needy kids toys.

The embezzlement was discovered by Toys for Tots and Bridgeview police in April. Before that, the thefts had been going undetected for three years, Fortier said.

“The low of the low – you’re taking advantage of someone who is disadvantaged,” Fortier said.

No criminal charges have been filed, but donations have been pouring in since the word got out.

“You have to come in, because to see that expression on a child’s face when they receive that toy, and they don’t have much for Christmas, it just tears you up inside,” said donor Joseph Zeug.

Fortier says the group spends $20,000 its the motorcycle parade alone. Chicagoland Toys for Tots collects toys that are distributed each year by the U.S. Marine Corps.

  • Jim Hamilton

    Why not post their picture so everyone can see who they are, and why not provide a name? This happened in April why haven’t they been arrested?

    • iris

      Thinking the same thing.

    • Yard Ape

      That’s CBS’s crack reporting for you!!!! They report like they are smoking crack !!!

  • Jim Hamilton

    Oh Chicago you make Illinois feel so proud

    DECATUR, Ill. (CBS) — A downstate lawmaker would like to kick Chicago and Cook County out of the Illinois.
    CBS 2 Political Producer Ed Marshall says state Rep. Bill Mitchell (R-Decatur) finds that Cook County dominates all politics and legislation in Springfield, and he thinks it is time for the state to cut its largest population center adrift for the “betterment” of the rest of Illinois.
    He says Cook County should be allowed to exist apart from the state like the District of Columbia, with its own government.

  • tom k

    I won’t give this group one dime anymore they are all theifs

    • Bob Hamilton

      Tom, you never gave them any money to begin with! Actually, you’ve never given any cash away for charity have you? Chances are you do not vote either. Your personal relationships are a huge mess, you don’t read books, and most likely do not use your signals when you change lanes. Isn’t it funny how all of that was revealed in your short comment?
      Start changing all that by giving to charity today.

      • Tom k

        Hey Bob I give more in charity then you make in a year and I will always be better then you

  • CharlyAnne Rusch

    Actually that’s not true, they are not thieves. ONE person stole, everyone else works to provide for children whose families cannot. They need donations now than ever to make up for ONE persons sins against this wonderful organization.

    • SnowFlake

      AMEN! and Bless you CharlyAnne for your understanding ! I hope more people feel as you do and if not; that they will at least continue to donate toys for us to distribute – it’s the MONEY that was stolen NOT the TOYS so maybe we need more toys and less money right now! I know it takes a lot of money to keep us operational but right now it’s about getting Christmas to these kids and that’s where the TOYS come in! Please HELP! Contact them at to arrange for toy pickups.

  • SnowFlake

    Tom, I’m sorry you feel this way but I understand where you’re coming from. Not all of our members are thieves but it only takes one to make people feel that way. We have thousands of volunteers who work very hard to see that the Marine’s get toys on Parade Day for their program and many who collect toys on their own and bring to the warehouse for distribution. We have a committee that distributes toys to area hospitals, children’s homes and schools with special needs children (like Shriner’s, Little Angel’s, Misericordia, Alden, Children’s Habilitation, Bethshan and Lydia House just to name a few). So, please at least donate a toy – the kids shouldn’t have to pay for the mistake of the adult(s) involved!

    • Tom k

      If your Board of Directors has such poor oversite then perhaps a complete overhaul is needed so before I open my checkbook again I wiil wait and watch what changes are made

  • Santa's helper

    Bravo to CharlyAnne you could not have said it better, This is a Great organization TFT and they do a-lot for Chicagoland needy families and children for the holidays to assure the children receive some toys for Christmas. They also could use a-lot more volunteers thru out the year and on Parade day. So people don’t stop the donations for the needy children because of a few misguide volunteers !
    A Santa helper :)

  • fun one


    The National Organization for TFT will go after them, if the local won’t do anything. Worse yet, according to ABC 7, it was the wife of a former board member that did this. Another news site said that she had a disorder that made her do this.

    Scammers use the TFT name in order to steal money during the holiday season. There was a guy in Gary who was using the TFT name and scamming people out of money, and he wasn’t even a volunteer. He was caught because he tried to scam a State Senator out of money. The few choice words was prosecuted.

    Don’t give up on TFT. Because in the end, they will get what’s coming to them.

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