BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — Police are on the hunt for a heartless thief they say stole Christmas from needy children in Connecticut.

The locks were cut at the storage pods in the parking lot of of the Greater Bridgeport Christian Fellowship Church, with the $8,000 in toys meant for needy children fleeced.

“It’s gut wrenching, it’s appalling,” Pastor Eric Torres said.

Bridgeport Police sources tell CBS2 the suspect drove up in a van early Saturday morning and took everything.

“They didn’t just rob toys from a church, they robbed toys from the children in this city,” Torres said.

Torres works with the Toys for Tots program in town, and says the gifts were meant for some 1,600 families who could not afford to buy gifts for their children.

“The gifts were going to got to some of the most needy, some of the most vulnerable children in our community,” Torres said.

In the wake of the heartless heist there is hope. Torres says there’s been an outpouring of volunteerism and giving, including a $3,500 check, toys, games, and bicycles from all over the community and country. While CBS2’s Scott Rapoport was working on the story Wednesday, Torres says a donor called to say he was bringing a truckload of toys down from Cape Cod.

“Anywhere from two to three thousand dollars worth of toys,” Torres said.

There’s still much to do, and more donations are needed, but there’s now at least hope for the kids of Bridgeport.

To donate to Toys for Tots, call 203.726.3614 or email toysfortotsbpt@yahoo.com.

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