‘They’re stealing from children:’ Toys for Tots donation boxes stolen in Ocala

Annual Christmas charity program in its 73rd year

OCALA, Fla. – In the past couple weeks, Marine and coordinator for Toys for Tots in Ocala, Patrick Joynt, said two donation boxes were stolen. One from Dollar General, another from Wendy’s on West Silver Springs Boulevard.

“We are definitely down. The demand is going to be up this year and donations are down,” Joynt said.

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Joynt said the warehouse is emptier than usual and Toys for Tots in Ocala has lost major contributors due to the financial impacts of COVID-19.

To make things worse, two donation boxes full of cash were stolen in the past couple weeks. One theft was caught on camera at the Dollar General on West Silver Springs Boulevard.

A man in a hat and mask is seen looking at some catalogs. He speaks to the employees several times. The money box sits right next to the cashier. When the register is unattended, the man swiped the cash box using a catalog to conceal it.

“They’re stealing from children and that’s a special kind of scumbag. It seems like it happens every year and I’m getting sick of it,” Joynt said. “It’s a big contribution as far as monetary. Some boxes give us $900, some thousands, some $15, every bit helps.”

Joynt wants anyone who recognizes the man in the video to contact police.

“Every child deserves a Christmas, and this is our 73rd year. As far as what I’d like to see come out of this, I’d like justice to be served. There’s no excuse for this,” Joynt said. “To have this happen is just disheartening. You can let it get you down or just fight against the adversity of it... We’re Marines, we’ll get it done.”

Toys for Tots in Ocala will be accepting donations through mid-December for this year. The organization accepts monetary donations all year long. If you would like to contribute, click here.

Joynt said the donation boxes are plastic and don’t have much of an anchor system. News 6 asked why the organization doesn’t get more secure boxes.

“It’s just budget. We don’t have anything in our budget. The boxes we have, I had to take out of our toy budget. I don’t have a budget for anything else... if someone would like to donate better boxes, we’d be happy to use them,” Joynt said.

Joynt said Toys for Tots means a lot to families and children who would go without. He said many people volunteer their time and donate to help out.

“To me it’s something that needs to be done. You’re just taking care of your fellow man. By giving these kids some Christmas, it will make them a better human being so when they grow up they’ll be better citizens,” Joynt said.

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