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Shipping container recovered, but thousands of dollars in holiday donations gone

A container holding holiday donations that went missing from an Englewood lot over the weekend was found Wednesday in Chicago Heights — but nearly all the items that had been inside, worth nearly $50,000, were gone.

A shipping container belonging to Kidz Korna that had been nearly filled with about $50,000 in donated gifts for Christmas was stolen last weekend. By the time the container was located, it had been mostly emptied.
A shipping container belonging to Kidz Korna that had been nearly filled with about $50,000 in donated gifts for Christmas was stolen last weekend. By the time the container was located, it had been mostly emptied.
Provided/Delece Williams

A container holding holiday donations that went missing from an Englewood lot over the weekend has been recovered.

The container, originally filled with donations for Kidz Korna’s Winter Wonderland Giveaway Driveby & Tour, was found Wednesday in Chicago Heights, about 24 miles south of the lot it was stolen from in the 6500 block of South Parnell Avenue.

Delece Williams, founder of Kidz Korna, said she was called out to the scene to identify the container Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, Williams and Sharon Preston, founder of Flags of the Heart, are still working to replace the nearly $50,000 in donated items that had been inside the 53-foot-long shipping container.

The container was all but empty when they arrived, Preston said.

“There were a few things but no toys. Things were thrown on the ground, and some was recoverable, but most was not.”

At the time of the theft, the container was about four-fifths full, with toys, coats, electronics and jewelry.

Delece Williams and Sharon Preston, organizers for the donation drive, spent much of Wednesday gathering toys and donated items that had been thrown on the ground. Most of the container was emptied of all donations.
Delece Williams and Sharon Preston, organizers for the donation drive, spent much of Wednesday gathering toys and donated items that had been thrown on the ground. Most of the container was emptied of all donations.
Provided/Delece Williams

Williams discovered the container was missing on Saturday when she showed up to store more donations. Neighbors told her they had seen a truck tow it away the day before but assumed the driver had permission to move it.

Earlier this week, Williams said, a man came forward to tell authorities he had been paid to remove the container.

“He admitted he made a huge mistake,” Preston said,

According to the Chicago Police Department, the man who came forward is not a person of interest at this time. The investigation is ongoing, and no one is in custody.

Chicago Heights police were unable to comment on the case, and no other details were available from CPD.

Sharon Preston (left), Flags of the Heart founder, and Delece Williams, Kidz Korna founder, gave a press conference Monday at the site of the stolen container. Williams identified the stolen container Wednesday after authorities located it in Chicago Heights.
Sharon Preston (left), Flags of the Heart founder, and Delece Williams, Kidz Korna founder, shown Monday at the site of the stolen container. Williams identified the stolen container Wednesday after authorities located it in Chicago Heights.
Cheyanne M. Daniels/Sun-Times

Kidz Korna and Flags of the Heart are continuing to accept donations at the following 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.