Though it's still early in the season, there's already a Grinch who stole Christmas at one hospital in Phoenix.
St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center is seeking new gift donations after nearly $20,000 worth of donated Christmas gifts were stolen, totaling about 90 percent of its accumulated gifts from the past several months.
The donated items -- which included Wii game consoles and popcorn machines -- were intended for children with chronic illnesses and disabilities being treated at the hospital, AZCentral.com reports.
The toys were kept in a storage space in one of the hospital's garages and were checked on weekly, according to the Tuscon Citizen. The items were reported stolen in October, though the hospital waited to comment until Wednesday, hoping the extra time would aid the police, and the proximity to Christmas might trigger more donations, the Citizen reported.
Lori Takeuchi, clinic child-life coordinator for the hospital, was shocked to find the gifts stolen, telling the Tuscon Citizen that it broke her heart "that someone who came in there knew it was for children."
Although the thieves left behind just two boxes, the hospital still hopes to give a gift to every child this Christmas.
“Our goal is to provide every child that comes through our door a gift,” Takeuchi told Fox Phoenix. “You assume that every kid has a basketball or soccer ball, and when they come that is usually what they are asking. They just want the Barbie or the ball, the basic toy that they can go outside and play with.”
According to AZCentral.com, toys for the preschool-toddler age group are preferred, and the new donations will be kept in an undisclosed location.To make a donation, call 602-406-3041.