Salvation Army estimates 1,500 children blessed with gifts after van theft drives donations

Between 3,000 and 5,000 toys donated with $50,000 in pledges received

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
  • Lt. Christopher Rockwell of the Salvation Army Farmington Corps Community Center told The Daily Times the month of December was really busy as the community came to the rescue after the nonprofit’s van with $6,000 in toys was stolen.
  • Anthony Crespin, 37, is still wanted by law enforcement for allegedly stealing the van.
  • PNM employees from the San Juan Generating Station on Dec. 17 purchased about $5,000 worth of toys, bikes and clothing for the Salvation Army, according to a PNM news release.

FARMINGTON — Community support for the Farmington Salvation Army continues to pour in, with the nonprofit organization projecting the donation of 3,000 to 5,000 toys and money pledges exceeding $50,000.

The volunteers were able to donate gifts to 1,500 children for Christmas after the local chapter received an unprecedented number of donations.

Lt. Christopher Rockwell of the Salvation Army Farmington Corps Community Center told The Daily Times the month of December was really busy as the community came to the rescue after the organization’s van with $6,000 in toys was stolen.

A Toyota minivan parked in the Walmart parking lot at 4600 E. Main St. was stolen on the night of Dec. 14. Anthony Crespin, 37, is still wanted by law enforcement for allegedly stealing the van. Crespin was helping a Salvation Army employee shop for toys when he allegedly stole the vehicle.

The Salvation Army in Farmington was able to provide gifts to about 1,500 children in San Juan County with the toys and clothing donated to the nonprofit.

The van eventually was recovered in Sandoval County, but none of the stolen toys were inside.

More:Farmington Salvation Army receives $30,000 and hundreds of toy donations for area children

During the Dec. 20 Angel Tree toy distribution, Rockwell estimated the Salvation Army received about 500 to 600 toys, along with $30,000 and 400 to 500 pieces of clothing.

He revised that estimated in a Dec. 28 interview. The organization is still finalizing its count, but officials believe they received 3,000 to 5,000 toys, which have been donated to 1,500 children in the area.

Rockwell also stated that more than $50,000 in donations has been pledged by the community.

PNM employees from the San Juan Generating Station on Dec. 17 purchased about $5,000 worth of toys, bikes and clothing for the Salvation Army, according to a PNM news release.

“That’s the blessing of living in this wonderful community because they have responded,” Rockwell said.

Volunteers and staff members distributed toys to about 350 children as part of the annual Angel Tree program.

The Farmington Salvation Army distributes toys at the Huerfano Chapter House during a drive-thru toy giveaway earlier this month.

To distribute the remaining gifts following the Angel Tree distribution, volunteers and staff members went to multiple Navajo Nation chapter houses in the area, Rockwell said.

Rockwell helped at a distribution at the Huerfano Chapter house by conducting a drive-thru event for area community members to pick up gifts for the holiday season.

He believes 80% to 90% of the unclaimed toys were donated during trips to the area chapter houses.

“They were thrilled,” Rockwell said. “They were just very grateful that we were able to do this.”

Rockwell said all the attention the organization has drawn recently reminds the community of the Salvation Army and its mission.

Part of that mission is focusing on its recovery ministry for those who struggle with alcohol and drug addiction, he said.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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