Over the weekend, little Karley Felschow became one of the youngest armed robbery victims in Buffalo history.
A bandit outside the Marine Drive Apartments pointed a handgun at Karley and her mother, Patricia Felschow, on Friday night. The thief took Felschow's purse, with $315 inside, and then snatched a tiny pink "Disney Princess" purse that Karley was carrying. Buffalo police quickly caught a suspect.
Since then, nothing but good things have happened for Karley, who turns 2 on Dec. 29.
Dozens of people who read about the robbery in Sunday's editions of The Buffalo News have contacted the Felschow family to offer kind words, cash -- and purses -- for Karley.
"It's been unbelievable. I can't tell you how much it means to us," Felschow, 25, said Monday. "Karley still doesn't really understand what happened to her. These people have been coming by with gifts and saying, 'Here's an early Christmas gift from Santa Claus.' "
Felschow had worked overtime in her job at a child day care center to earn the $315 that was in her purse. She planned to use the money to buy Christmas and birthday presents for Karley. The money was not recovered during the arrest, but Felschow said cash donations have more than made up for the loss.
"People have been so generous, it's overwhelming," Felschow said. "Everybody says they can't believe somebody would do that to a little girl. We've received donations from people who live in my building. People who know my father took up a collection. They're really nice."
As of Monday afternoon, people had donated five purses to Karley. "She loves every one of the purses," her mother said. "She's been carrying them around everywhere."
Karley also is thrilled with a Barbie dressing gown and a tiara that she received.
Central District officers have charged Lorenzo Brewer, 23, of Lark Street, with armed robbery and marijuana possession in the case. Officers who responded to the crime scene were helped by a Marine Drive Apartments security guard who spotted Brewer running into a nearby building.
Karley's grandfather, Robert Felschow, said he had tears in his eyes Monday as he looked at e-mails from readers, which were forwarded to the family by The News.
One woman dropped off a little purse and $100, saying she wanted to remain anonymous but wanted the family to know that people care about them.
"Karley, at this point, doesn't really understand what happened. Someday we'll explain it to her. I'm more concerned right now about my daughter. She's very shaken up by what happened," Robert Felschow said.