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Toys for Tots toys not stolen in Glenwood Springs

Pete Fowler
pfowler@postindependent.com
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” It turns out the grinch did not steal Christmas in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

Instead it was just a big confusion. Toys for Tots volunteers told the Glenwood Springs Post Independent and Grand Junction media Wednesday morning that someone was stealing their toys in Glenwood Springs, Silt and in the Roaring Fork Valley, but they said later in the day it was just a miscommunication.

The false story about toys being stolen was even posted on at least one Denver news site Wednesday afternoon.

Some of the toys donated locally were picked up by volunteers from Denver and Grand Junction and may not be coming back to get distributed to the needy local families they were supposed to go to.

Marie Gasau, a Toys for Tots volunteer and Pastor at the Basalt Community United Methodist Church, said, “The important thing at this point is there were no toys stolen. Some were inadvertently sent to the wrong city. We clarified that.”

Gasau estimated there may have been two big boxes that could have had around 40 toys each that were taken out of the area.

“I have faith that they’re going to the right place,” she said. “They’ll go to some needy kid, I’m just not sure if it’ll be Grand Junction or our area or Denver.”

The confusion started when American Furniture Warehouse in Glenwood Springs shipped the toys the store collected to Denver around two weeks ago. The store mistakenly thought there was no local Toys for Tots effort, Gasau said.

Then other funny things started happening.

A volunteer went to pick up toys from a toy collection site at Tim’s Tools in Silt a few days ago. When they arrived, they were told someone already picked the toys up.

The name Rich Griffin was dropped and somehow Toys for Tots volunteers came to believe someone was pretending to be a volunteer to steal the toys. Griffin is an ex-Navy pilot and Toys for Tots coordinator out of Grand Junction. He said early Wednesday before the miscommunication came to light that he was angry someone was impersonating him.

Tim’s Tools insisted the men who picked up the toys were real Marines. They reportedly said they were from Grand Junction.

“We’re not exactly sure where the toys went that were picked up in Silt, but we’re pretty sure they were picked up by Marines,” Gasau said.

The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program has toy collection sites across the country as well as at a number of local businesses. Local volunteers plan to distribute the toys to needy families on Saturday. The program is looking for new, unopened toys for young kids and teenagers up to around age 16.

Gasau said she’s been helping out with the Marine Toys for Tots charity in the Roaring Fork Valley for around 10 years and has never seen anything like this. She hopes the effort is more organized next year.

Needy families must apply to receive the toys through the Eagle County Department of Health and Human Services. The department can be contacted at 704-2760.

Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121

pfowler@postindependent.com


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