A Scottsville restaurant is trying to replace donated toys meant for charity after the restaurant owner collecting them thinks they were stolen.
Just days ago, a collection box at the front of the Tavern on the James restaurant was overflowing with donations for hospitalized children. Now, it’s a lot emptier.
“Toys were missing - you know, Barbies, and action figures, and noticeable stuff,” said Kelley Marshall, Tavern on the James owner.
Marshall says she made the discovery Tuesday after going to Charlottesville to buy more toys to add to the collection box. She says someone stole a good portion of the collection.
"It broke my heart, really. This is the best year we've had for the toy drive. We do it every year,” Marshall said.
The collection effort is part of Mason's Toy Box, a toy drive in memory of 11-year-old Mason Thomas who passed away after a battle with cancer.
Mason's mother organizes the donation drive each year before Christmas.
“This is supposed to strengthen our community and not divide it so when people do things like this, it's very disheartening,” said Kelley Kassay. “I was honestly shocked. That has never happened, as far as we know, in the six years we've been doing this."
Marshall is hoping to replace the missing items. She didn't call police, thinking there's not much chance the culprit would be caught.
She's hoping the toys at least go to some deserving children.
"I deeply in my heart hope that the children that receive the toys enjoy them, have a Merry Christmas. I have no malice in my heart toward the people that did it,” Marshall said. “I just wish you would've talked to us first. We could've worked something out."
The tavern is hosting a poker tournament Wednesday night and a DJ event this weekend for people to stop by and drop off more toys.
In future years, owners say they’ll be keeping closer inventory on what they collect.
Mason's Toy Box has collection efforts all across central Virginia. You can contribute between now and the week before Christmas.