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Thieves steal toys that were collected for ill children

Thieves broke into a storage facility in Nitro and stole toys that had been collected for ill children.

Basket of Hope, a Christian charity, has branches throughout the country, including West Virginia, said Sarah Badger, local branch coordinator. The organization relies on monetary donations and gifts of new toys to fill baskets that are delivered to children suffering from serious conditions such as cancer, Badger said.

Sometime over the weekend, the local organization's storage locker was broken into and numerous toys taken. Among toys that were stolen were numerous Barbie dolls, doll accessories, and action figures as well as unknown new merchandise in boxes yet to be sorted.

"We take donations and shop for some things that go into baskets to get kids specific things they like," she said. "I try to keep shelves organized but there were several boxes I had not yet gone through."

The inventory included some nice things thanks to a toy drive by a law firm.

"We work on donations," she said. "We've had a few fundraisers but it takes money to make money."

Basket of Hope was brought to the Charleston area in 2011 by a woman whose daughter had cancer, she said. The child is now doing well, she added.

Former Marshall University and National Football League player Chris Massey and his wife, Sarah, are involved in the organization. Chris Massey does a lot of the deliveries to kids and spends time with them.

"We partner with the NFL and the players do a lot of deliveries," Badger said.

When Massey delivers a basket to a child, the act always brings a smile.

"You can see their face light up," he said.

He spends over an hour with each family as they get to know each other. They exchange email addresses and stay in touch through social media.    

In addition to toys being delivered to children, tote bags are given to parents that contain Bibles, journals and inspirational materials to give them hope during difficult times.

The recent theft "is a setback but nothing we won't rebuild from," Massey said. 

Badger said the local organization received a call from a storage facility in Hurricane where free space was offered and plans call for moving there.

Meanwhile, those who would like to make a donation may go to www.basketofhope.org and click on the local branch or contact Badger at 304-545-8700.

The storage facility in Nitro that was broken into last weekend is called The Storage Unit, located at 580 Cross Lanes Drive.

Owner Richard Standish said five units in all were broken into but the people who had items in the other four did not report anything missing.

"The door of my office was busted," he said. "I don't know if they took anything. I have a mail slot for payments."

Anyone with information about the break-in over the weekend may contact the Kanawha County Sheriff's Office at www.kanawhasheriff.us or 304-357-0169.

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