Thieves steal Christmas gifts for Doncaster homeless

Victoria Aldridge had been collecting items for the homeless and children for Christmas
Victoria Aldridge had been collecting items for the homeless and children for Christmas
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Thieves broke into a van and stole food and gifts which had been donated to homeless people by Doncaster schoolchildren.

Now the Doncaster community is rallying to replace the items, which were taken from a van on Lower Pasture, Branton, in the early hours of Wednesday.

Victoria Aldridge, a volunteer at Bawtry Air Cadets, had parked outside her house, leaving food and toiletries – collected by the cadets and children at St Oswald’s Primary School in Finningley – in her van. There were items worth about £200 inside several boxes.

She said: “My van has blacked-out windows but they saw fit to have a good look around and find these things.

“I am a childminder by trade and luckily they did not take the car seats – an expense I could not have covered at this time of year.

“We were also a little bit lucky in the fact I had stored our children’s shoebox gifts in the Air Cadets squadron hall.

“These are being delivered to Hallam FM for their Mission Christmas appeal – all two dozen boxes and a dozen gift bags.

“It was very upsetting to find this has happened in our village community by some reprobates who saw fit to destroy a charitable act.

“Of course after being upset comes anger and annoyance for those who donated and those who could have benefited from it.

“I still have a few homeless gifts in my home and from parents on my social media network.

“I hope to collect a little bit of something to take to the shelter on Monday night as I am volunteering that evening.”

Victoria estimated the thieves had taken around 90 per cent of the gifts which had been stored in her van and believes they took everything they could carry.

They were due to be taken to a homeless centre on Chequer Road to be used in a buffet for those who had no other Christmas treats.

It is believed the break-in happened at around 4am.

Since the theft, members of the Finningley and Blaxton community have been rallying around to support Victoria and the efforts of the school and the cadets, by offering to replace items.

The landlord of the Station pub had even offered to act as a drop-off point for items.

Earlier in the day, a total of 37 gift boxes had already been dropped off for the Star-backed Hallam FM Cash for Kids Mission Christmas toy collection, leaving only the food and toiletry items.

Victoria added: “I’m determined to make sure that these people still have a great Christmas and the whole of the community is rallying around to that end.

“They may even end up with more than we had originally collected.”

A South Yorkshire police spokesman said: “Officers are investigating a report of theft from a Mercedes Vito van on Lower Pastures in Blaxton.

“The theft is believed to have occurred between 5pm on Tuesday, 15 December and 8am on Wednesday, 16 December.

“Anyone with information should call 101, quoting incident number 226 of 16 December 2015.”

* Anyone who would like to make a donation can contact Victoria on 07971 635441 or 01302 773058.