“There has been an outstanding outpouring of compassion from this community,” Frazier said. “Even in this economy, so many selfless acts have been made to help our program.”
Frazier can’t supply an official total for the amount of food and toys donated since the robbery last Tuesday, but he said “it’s a lot.” Friends of Oakley volunteers have been making the rounds collecting donations from barrels placed throughout the city, and Frazier has been traveling as far as Lafayette to pick up donations of toys.
Last week, when Friends of Oakley volunteers arrived at Almond Grove Elementary, where the Friends were storing donations in the gym, they discovered that nearly all the donated toys and half the donated food was missing. The loss broke the hearts of the many volunteers who came out to help wrap on Tuesday, but two days later, volunteers had more than enough to keep them busy.
“This is what it was supposed to be like on Tuesday,” Frazier said as he made the rounds to the various gift-wrapping stations piled with toys. “Oakley isn’t going to let some thief keep us from bringing Christmas to families in need.”
The Friends of Oakley has registered 300 families this year to receive a holiday meal. Toys will also be provided to the 800 children in these families, and gift bags are being made for 200 local seniors.
While many students from Freedom High School leadership came out to help with the gift wrapping last Thursday, Renee Nguyen of Heritage High School in Brentwood said she heard the story and wanted to help.
“When I saw the story on the news, I knew I had to come help,” Nguyen said. “I can’t believe someone in our area would actually steal Christmas. You hear about it happening in other cities each year, but you never think it would happen here.”
Friends of Oakley Vice President Pat Anderson, who was reduced to tears the day of the robbery, shed a few tears of joy at the gift-wrapping event, pleased by the giving hearts of the community. “I am pleasantly surprised and yet I’m not surprised at all. This is a community that has always given and has always dug down deep in their hearts. It’s wonderful.”
Oakley Police Chief Bani Kollo said the theft is still under investigation and leads are being pursued.
Frazier said the Friends of Oakley are on target to have enough toys and food to fulfill their commitment to the 300 registered families, but volunteers are still needed for the food sorting and Christmas basket distribution. Volunteers are needed at O’Hara Park Middle School, 1100 O’Hara Ave., Friday, Dec. 16 at 3 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 17 at 9 a.m. for sorting and packaging, and on Sunday, Dec. 18 from noon to 3:30 p.m. for distribution.
For more information about the Friends of Oakley, visit www.friendsofoakley.com.
Justin Lafferty contributed to this story.