CHICAGO (CBS) —One massive hit on a Chicago cell phone store does double damage this holiday season.

Thieves got away with not only merchandise, but thousands of Christmas gifts for kids on the city’s South Side. As CBS 2’s Steven Graves explains, it’s the way they did it that makes it hurt even more.

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After more than a decade of tradition, this was going to be the year for Joy McCann’s toy drive.

“We did it better than we ever did before.”

Bags full of Christmas gifts and trinkets, about 20,000 items she and her group Project Loose Change collected, were stolen. Also taken: about $40,000 in merchandise from the cell phone store’s inventory.

“Some Kindles. Some little bikes. It was just toys. A bunch of toys,” McCann said.

So many, that she had to use her friend Sayaad Dababneh’s Boost Mobile Store in South Chicago to store them in back room safes.

“Now, no toys for the kids,” McCann said.

(Credit: Loose Change)

It was the type of brazen burglary Dababneh had never seen.

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“They came through this door. I installed [a metal door and lock] yesterday,” Debabneh said.

And thieves got to a door by sawing a hole in a brick wall. A deck hid them as they went into the basement where they later disabled the security cameras. In addition to the cell phones, the gifts were most likely a grand find for the grinches who might have been familiar with the store’s layout.

“Because to go in the basement, and come this way, they’ve been here before,” Debabneh said.

Dababneh, who worked with McCann on the toy drive promises to come back stronger. With only two weeks out, both plan to use personal money. They hope the community will donate funds or drop off toys at the store on Commercial Drive.

(Credit: Loose Change)

“These bad people are not going to stop me. They’re not going to change my heart. My heart will be the same. Her heart will be the same,” Dabaneh said.

“I’m going to give away … toys. Where I get them from, I don’t know. But I’m going to get them,” McCann said.

The Christmas spirit may be a little crushed, but it’s not defeated.

You can drop off toys at the Boost Mobile locations at 91st and Commercial, 95th and Jeffrey and 159th Street in Harvey. Click here to go to the group’s GoFundMe link.

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