ANDERSON – Though a Grinch might have stolen 6-year-old Lamar Graves’ gifts on Christmas Eve, a group of volunteers made sure he still had toys & presents to open – even if they were two weeks late.
Representatives from the Salvation Army, Toys for Tots and Hoosiers with Hearts surprised Lamar with a Christmas in January on Wednesday to make up for the presents that were stolen after a burglary at their home in the 1100 block of Locust Street, where he lives with his mother, Pamela Graves.
The volunteers brought armful after armful of wrapped presents and food for Lamar, who sat wide-eyed and smiling on the family’s mauve sofa. As each bundle of presents came in, he squirmed and smiled, keeping his hands clutched in his lap, fighting back the urge to tear into the gifts.
The surprise was organized by Randy Howard, founder of Hoosiers with Hearts, who contacted Graves to see what she needed after he heard about the break-in.
Anderson police believe those responsible for the robbery backed a truck into the driveway and that several people were involved in the Christmas Eve break-in. The thieves apparently broke into the house by kicking in the back door and breaking a window. According to police, three television sets, clothing, Lamar’s school clothes and decorations from the walls were stolen.
No one has been arrested for the crime.
When Howard heard Lamar’s story, he said he couldn’t just let the young boy go without a Christmas.
“I was really moved by this,” he said. “This is about turning something bad into something good.”
Howard then contacted Beth Stamper, of the Salvation Army of Henry County, who reached out to Toys for Tots and other donors to find presents for Lamar. Stamper also worked with a food bank to provide food for the family.
For Graves, the help, presents and prayers that have poured in have helped to re-establish her faith in humanity, which was shaken after the burglary.
“Everyone has their own lives and it’s just so great that people will take a second to help out,” she said.
As she watched her son unwrap a remote-control car and a Superman action figure, she could barely hold back her tears.
“It makes my heart melt,” she said. “I don’t have the words to thank everyone.”