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Gift toys stolen at center

Hundreds of needy children may go without this Christmas because of an Ebenezer Scrooge who stole $3,500 in donated toys from a youth center last weekend.

"What a cowardly act," said William Preston of FATHERS, the group that collected the toys. "If the individual who did this has a conscience, he should return the toys, and there'll be no questions asked."

Preston said the toys -- hundreds are missing -- were taken from the Bob Lanier Center on Lang Street near Schiller Park between 8 p.m. Saturday and 6 a.m. Sunday. Buffalo police are investigating the theft.

With just four shopping days left before Christmas, the group is asking the public to donate replacement toys or make a monetary donation that can be used to buy new toys.

"We're pleading with the community," Preston said. "We want to make sure every child has something on Christmas morning."

Preston said the toys were donated as part of the 10th annual "Toys for Joy" holiday party in the Lanier Center on Saturday.

The event is part of the Western New York Holiday Partnership, a collaborative involving The News Neediest Fund and 15 local agencies that collects and distributes toys and gifts for needy families.

The toys that were stolen were donated by individuals and businesses or purchased with money raised by Preston's group, Fathers Armed Together to Help, Educate, Restore and Save.

People who want to help can donate a toy or money at the Outsource Center, 1469 Fillmore Ave., or by calling FATHERS at 563-5646.

e-mail: pfairbanks@buffnews.com

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