The toys reported stolen from a Salvation Army collection bin at the St. Albert Walmart have been recovered. It turns out they were never stolen in the first place.
Two individuals who showed up to truck the toys away were, in fact, Salvation Army volunteers, but were based out of Edmonton, not St. Albert. The toys are now sitting in the Salvation Army warehouse in Edmonton and will be brought back to St. Albert at the earliest opportunity, according to pastor Jason Guy, who described the ordeal as a communications breakdown.
“We are very sorry for this confusion and to all those who gave in response to this story, we say thank you.”
According to Guy, members of the Edmonton Salvation Army Community and Family Services were in contact with the St. Albert Walmart. While Guy isn’t sure who contacted who, or what was said, the Edmonton Salvation Army dispatched volunteers to pick up the toys collected at the store to date.
“I’m not sure why or how that happened,” Guy said.
Since news of the reported theft broke yesterday, businesses and local residents have been donating both toys and money to try and help make up for what was believed to have been lost. The Rotary Club of St. Albert alone raised $1,600 at its Friday morning breakfast meeting yesterday for the club.
Guy said the Salvation Army is willing to refund or return donations of toys and money.
“We apologize for this whole situation. We still have a need. We still have goals to meet. We still have 400 children this Christmas we need to get toys to and we still need to meet these goals so that everyone has a toy this Christmas and if the public would still give, we would greatly appreciate that.”
Originally, the Salvation Army said a manager at Walmart called the agency Wednesday morning requesting someone collect what was then a burgeoning drop-box of donated toys.
Two men claiming to be with the charity arrived at the store to collect the toys. They piled them onto a rolling cart before taking them to a Jeep parked outside.
The toys are destined for Christmas hampers the Salvation Army puts together in co-operation with the St. Albert Food Bank.
The toys are bundled together in small gift bags, with organizers anticipating handing out about 2,000 toys to 400 kids.
Guy did state in an earlier interview that he initially thought the toys could have been picked up by another worker or volunteer from sister charities they work with.