More than $3,000 worth of donated gifts set to be given to the needy was stolen from a New Jersey church over the weekend.
The congregants of St. Paul Roman Catholic Church in Ramsey, N.J., have vowed to refund the church in full. The Rev. Richard J. Kelly told reporters the church has almost been wholly refunded after the theft, thanks to the congregation’s kindness.
“I think all the children will have Christmas after all,” Kelly told The Record.
The priest said the thief stole only a portion of the total donation – mostly gift cards, toys and clothing – from the 3,300-family congregation.
Over a thousand gifts had been collected for the 30th annual “Christmas Giving Tree” event, in which parishioners pick a card listing the age, gender and gift request of a child in need.
The gifts are then donated to needy families in nearby Jersey City and Newark.
Church officials believe the theft occurred while the sanctuary's doors were open for people wishing to pray.
Kelly told the congregation of the theft during Mass services Saturday night and Sunday morning.
The New Jersey incident was not the only theft at a church this weekend.
The St. Philip Roman Catholic Church in Lyman, Maine, was robbed of dozens of gift cards donated by the congregation for local families in need.
Officials say the burglar most likely knew the access code to the church, as there were no signs of forced entry.
The St. Philip community is appealing to the broader Christian community for help to get the gift cards back before Christmas.