By Stefan Holt
Thousands of Chicago children may not get a toy this Christmas because of a real live Grinch.
The Chicago chapter of Toys for Tots discovered $25,000 missing back in April. It’s still unknown what happened to the money, but just five days before Christmas, the organization fears a former board member embezzled the cash to pay for a shopping spree and a house in foreclosure.
The $25,000 represents about a year of cash donations. Police have since been investigating where the money went.
The funds are used to pay for road closures during the annual Toys for Tots motorcycle parade and toy rally down Western Avenue. The parade has collected donations for the past three decades, trying to help needy children around the holiday.
With times so tough this year, organizers say donations are down and Toys for Tots can’t afford to buy toys to make up for the lack of donations. As a result, organizers fear thousands of kids won’t get Christmas presents this Sunday.
Still, volunteers say it’s not too late. If Chicagoans want to donate toys or money, they can do so at chicagolandtft.org.
Police are still investigating the alleged embezzlement. The board member in question has spoken to police, according to the Chicago Sun-Times and strongly denies that he or his wife had anything to do with the missing money. Charges have not been filed.