Donations are pouring into an Oakley nonprofit group after the toys and food it had collected to help the needy during the holidays were stolen earlier this week.
On Tuesday, members of the Friends of Oakley community group discovered that the goods collected for 300 needy families, including about 840 children, and 200 seniors were taken from Almond Grove Elementary School.
"It was a shock. It's something you don't think is going to happen," said board vice president Pat Anderson, fighting back tears.
"There's just a lot of dismay; I don't understand why someone would do this," the city councilwoman said.
The stolen toys are worth an estimated $4,000, not including food and items such as homemade blankets, according to a message posted Tuesday night on the foundation's website.
Word spread quickly through Facebook and email after Tuesday's burglary, as community groups and corporations in Discovery Bay, Antioch, Brentwood and Oakley said they would help replace the stolen items.
"For this group trying to help needy families through the support of the community to be totally wiped out; it's just devastating," Oakley resident Susan Morgan said.
Morgan said Wednesday morning on Facebook that she would match donations dollar for dollar up to $2,000.
"Hopefully, it helps motivate others. There needs to be a real fast effort so no families are turned away," she said.
Later in the day, Wells Fargo Bank announced that it would donate $4,000 to Friends of Oakley.
Mary Smith runs the Toys for Tots drive at Bay Alarm Co. After hearing about the burglary in her city, the 27-year Oakley resident asked her boss to move $1,000 from the company's drive to the Friends of Oakley Christmas Basket program. A dozen of Bay Alarm's 100 employees in its corporate office in Pacheco live in Oakley, Smith said.
"That someone could just wipe it out like that and stoop so low just devastated me," said Smith, a 27-year Oakley resident.
Local restaurant owner Mike Fagan took up a collection after hearing about the burglary.
Though there were only eight customers in Mike's Beef N Brew on Tuesday night, they raised $375.
"It goes to show that when you have a devastation, there are people there that you don't expect willing to step up to the plate in this community and help," he said.
Fagan said donations were still coming in Wednesday.
Friends of Oakley stored the toys and goods in the multiuse room of Almond Grove. Anderson and her husband Ray arrived at the school at about 3 p.m.
"At first, I told her some stuff was missing. Then I realized a lot was missing," Ray Anderson said.
The gymnasium had piles of toys on one side of the room, he said during an interview Wednesday, gesturing with his hands that the piles reached above his knee.
It appears the doors to the facility were not secured and there was no forced entry, Oakley police Chief Bani Kollo said Wednesday. Police are investigating the theft, he said.
The burglars must have come between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and used a van or truck to haul away all the toys and food, Ray Anderson said. The alarm was not on because school was in session, he said.
The Lynn Center leases classrooms at Almond Grove, which is owned by the Oakley school district. The school district allows Friends of Oakley to keep donations in the multiuse room, Anderson said.
The group is still accepting donations throughout the city, including City Hall and the foundation's office at 2063 Main St. The distribution of the Christmas baskets will be held Dec. 18.
For more information or to donate to the Friends of Oakley, call 925-625-5745 or visit the foundation website at www.friendsofoakley.webs.com.