INDIANAPOLIS — A one-of-a-kind holiday event for families in need might not be the same this year after someone stole thousands of dollars in bikes, toys and electronics from Church 52 on the east side.
The donations were stored inside a storage pod behind a shopping mall on Brookville Road. It had the makings of a merry Christmas for hundreds of Indianapolis families.
"So we recently put on a new lock, but you can see where they cut the lock we had down there," Jamie Inskeep, Church 52's team leader of outreach, said.
Inskeep said someone stole $10,000 in gifts Church 52 distributes every holiday season. It's all made possible by donations of money, time and love by the church's membership.
"This was full of bikes from here to back there," Inskeep said in the storage pod. "That was these people's pockets and that was our church body that gave that money."
This Christmas will be the 10th anniversary of the church's Christmas giving event. What started with about 25 kids has grown to nearly 250 served each year.
"We transform this place into a store and the parents shop for free," Inskeep said. "What we believe at this church is we worship God, we serve others and we change our world, and that's exactly what the Christmas experience does."
But what happened this week could make it tough to put on an event of the usual scale this year.
"It was really our worst fear to open up those doors and see that so much was gone," Inskeep said. "Headphones and Bluetooth speakers. You could tell that they had really looked for the high-ticket items."
Most of the Church 52 congregation doesn't know yet, and Inskeep said they're going to work to replace what they can now, but they have another concern.
"It's a hard thing to tell people, you know, what you gave has now been stolen," Inskeep said. "A big need for us is space. We don't feel safe now keeping our supplies and inventory behind the building."
For now, security cameras are coming, and rest assured this church's resolve won't be broken.
"We're not gonna stop doing what we're doing. We're gonna keep making a difference," Inskeep said. "We're gonna keep helping families, and we're not gonna stop."