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Kidz Korna gets its shipping container back; tow company apologizes

Englewood’s Kidz Korna had its holiday donations stolen in late November. But they remain focused on collecting replacement donations for their 16th annual donation drive.

Delece Williams, founder of Kidz Korna, sorts kids books in the recovered container holding holiday donations.
Delece Williams, founder of Kidz Korna, sorts kids books in the recovered shipping container holding holiday donations.
Brian Rich/Sun-Times

When Joe Vaccaro heard a shipping container filled with holiday donations disappeared from a lot in Englewood in November, his heart sank. It was his business, Vaccaro Trucking, that had been paid $625 cash to move that container.

“My driver called me and says, ‘Hey Joe, I think I’m the guy that moved that container,’” Vaccaro explained at a news conference Thursday. “I pulled up his paperwork from the prior week and sure enough.”

Vaccaro went to the police and shared the name and number of the man, identified only as Mark, who paid him to move the container. Then, Vaccaro led Chicago police officers to the drop-off location in Chicago Heights.

The recovered container holding holiday donations for Kidz Korna has been returned to its original location on Parnell Avenue in Englewood. Organizers have begun restocking donations in the container.
The recovered container holding holiday donations for Kidz Korna has been returned to its original location on Parnell Avenue in Englewood. Organizers have begun restocking donations in the container.
Brian Rich/Sun-Times

The container is now back at its original location on Parnell Avenue. Delece Williams, owner of the container and founder of Kidz Korna, is working to restock the donations that were removed.

The container was 80% full with nearly $50,000 in donations when it was carted away. Williams said Thursday the container is almost full again. Vaccaro donated the $625 he was paid to move the container.

Getting the container back wasn’t easy.

After Vaccaro instructed officers where to find the container, they called Williams to the scene — and the man who paid for the relocation.

The man admitted to removing the donations and changing the locks on the container because he was certain the container had belonged to him since 2019.

“He was stating that he had paperwork claiming that he owned it,” said Williams. “I had to pull up my paperwork that I got from CSX Railroad.”

Williams said, in the spirit of Christmas, she decided not to press charges.

Joseph Vaccaro (left) and Delece Williams (right) speak about the recovery of the container holding holiday donations for Kidz Korna Thursday.
Joseph Vaccaro (left) and Delece Williams talk about the recovery of the Kidz Korna’s shipping container.
Brian Rich/Sun-Times

“He kept apologizing, and he was very sorry that it happened, wanting us to understand that it was a huge mistake,” she said. “He did make an effort to try to replace some things. He said that he will raise money to get the kids’ toys and stuff.”

Williams will hand out donations with her partner, Sharon Preston, to 40 blocks during Kidz Korna’s 16th Annual Winter Wonderland Giveaway Driveby & Tour.

Kidz Korna is accepting donations at these locations:

• U.S. Bank, 815 W. 63rd St., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday,

• Farley’s House Music Store, 1301 E. 87th St., 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

• Hillside Home Run Inn Pizza, 60 N. Mannheim Road.

Cheyanne M. Daniels is a staff reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times via Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster the paper’s coverage of communities on the South and West sides.