Each year, the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis collects toys in October so the area's neediest children have something to smile about on Christmas morning. It's not just toys, they also distribute coats, gloves, hats, shoes, and other necessities for all ages as part of its Hundred Neediest Cases program.
However, last week, the Urban League's storage facility was broken into and the thieves made off with nearly a thousand toys and other items.
"We are extremely frustrated obviously that someone chose to do this and has negatively impacted our ability to help those who are having need throughout the region, but it goes to show the desperation that some people face during these times of year," said Michael McMillan, President and CEO of Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis. "We will not allow that to deter us. We will do everything that we possibly can to get those toys back and make sure that we serve the community and all of our hundred neediest families and the rest of the community give everything that we can give them for the holiday season.”
Word of the Grinch's greed traveled fast.
Clinton McBride and Gary Elliott, with the Eastern Missouri Labor Union, heard about the stolen toys at a St. Louis Board of Alderman meeting last Friday. By Monday, they had convinced their own board to allocate funds from union dues to write a $5,000 check to Urban League.
"It’s just the most got wrenching thing that I’ve heard," said Clinton McBride. "One hundred needy families at a time just before Christmas, it was an absolute travesty and we wanted to be able to do something about it.”
Others in the community are stepping up too, like the St. Louis College of Pharmacy, PARIC Corporation, and Haywood-Hoosman Reaty.
If you'd like to do your part, you can donate directly to the Urban League at ulstl.com or you can drop off new toys and clothing items from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Ferguson Community Empowerment Center located at 9420 West Florissant.