Belfast Telegraph

Thieves steal charity gifts destined for Ukrainian orphans

Thieves have stolen clothes, toys and food from a Northern Irish charity which had been destined for Ukrainian children this Christmas.

A van loaded with donated gifts was about to set off for orphanages in the eastern European country — but a weekend break-in at Craigavon charity Drop Inn Ministries means some children will be missing out.

Much of the lorry had been packed with shoe boxes filled with sweets, toys and other goodies donated by school children.

Drop Inn Ministries area manager Neil Dawson said he was shocked by the robbery.

“I’m upset for the kids that are going to miss out in Ukraine, but I’m also upset for the kids in Northern Ireland who had saved up to buy a bag of sweets or a toothbrush to put into their shoe boxes,” he said.

“Children were saving 50p each week to put towards it. When the lorry driver told me I thought he was having a laugh. I didn’t think that anyone could go as low as that.”

Volunteers had loaded up the gift boxes all day on Thursday and the the lorry was locked at around 6pm on Friday.

But when the driver arrived at 8am on Saturday he noticed some of the contents were missing.

Mr Dawson said the charity had been collecting donations since October as part of its Christmas appeal which sends goods to Belarus and the Ukraine.

This year they received around 7,000 shoe boxes and he said that between 150 and 200 of them had been stolen at the weekend along with clothes |and prams.

The charity said the the public had been very generous in providing additional donations and support after the robbery. They said the lorry left for Ukraine on Monday and had reached the Polish border yesterday evening.

Police have appealed to anyone who may have noticed anything suspicious at Drop Inn Ministries on the Highfield Road over the weekend to come forward with any information.

Sgt Alwyn Peters said: “Any crimes involving theft are unacceptable at anytime. However theft of this type is particularly deplorable.”

Anyone with information on the robbery should contact |police on 0845 600 8000.

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