ORANGE — A Grinch nearly stole Christmas from children in Orange.
Sunday, event organizers realizes that multiple gifts were missing just hours before a toy giveaway at the Sabine Park Apartment Homes.
"I am overwhelmed and upset that they had stolen the gifts," says Michelle Cole, the founder of Cookies with Santa's Little Helpers. "But the community once again came back and reached back and donated more than we had at first, so I'm very thankful."
Cole has planned the toy drive for the past two years, but Sunday, she noticed things were different from prior years.
"I came in and I seen like this tables look kind of shallow I'm looking, 'Oh my goodness they stole all of the boys gifts and they stole majority of the girls big gifts!' like Easy Bake Ovens and stuff like that."
Left with only a few gifts, the organization reached out to the community for help-- and the community answered that call.
"It's kind of messed up what happened to it," says TJ Dennis who donated gifts. "That's why I went back and bought more stuff so the kids can have stuff and have a merry Christmas."
The group was determined to make the holidays a special time for kids in need.
"We made the negative into a positive the community came together donated some toys," says Mary Ekene, a toy drive volunteer. "Monetary and voluntary, and we have this big turn out."
The community donated more than 500 gifts ranging from bikes to coats.
"I like to give back to my city and town to help little kids out," says Dennis. "I know some parents struggle with not buy kids gifts and I came out to help the best I can to help parents out."
Each child in attendance received gifts, played games, and ate at no cost. The event took place as planned.
Cole has a message for the thief.
"You didn't have to steal the gifts," she says. "All you had to do was show up there, free."
The organization is working to find the Grinch that stole the gifts, and plans to continue the toy drive for years to come.