Nicole Kosciuczyk was in tears on Christmas Eve after someone broke into her North Toledo house earlier in the day and stole all the Christmas gifts that she had wrapped for her four children. What she did not know that help was on the way from a group of elves dressed in blue.
"They ransacked my house. They destroyed my children's Christmas," Ms. Kosciuczyk, 29, told a Blade reporter as she took a minute from trying to console her children, Alexis, 12, Zackery, 10, Leland, 6, and Grace, 5.
A single mother, Ms. Kosciuczyk is unemployed and said she has unsuccessfully applied for dozens of jobs. The only help she gets is food stamps for the children, she said.
Just about the time Ms. Kosciuczyk was relaying the story Christmas Eve night at her house on Maple Street, several Toledo police officers and dispatchers had just finished buying Christmas gifts for her children at a Meijer store at 1500 East Alexis Rd. After the shopping adventure, dispatchers planned to wrap the presents and employees from the police department were planning to drop them off late Monday night.
Officer Joe Trudeau, 35, said that dozens of Toledo police officers had pitched in, raising $900 after the officers who took the burglary report, came off the day shift and shared the story with their colleagues. Once Mr. Trudeau and several others got to the store to buy the gifts for the family, the store employees donated $400 for the purpose, bringing the donated amount up to $1,300.
"I think it was a heartless crime that these people did," the six-year veteran of the Toledo police department, said of the unknown perpetrators. "And I think no one, especially children, should be without joy for the holidays.
"I feel that if we can give back, anything is worth it to put a smile [back] on the kids' faces," Officer Trudeau said while shopping. He has a stepdaughter, who is 8, and twins "on the way," he said.
The gifts the officers and dispatchers bought included a PlayStation 3 video game system, toy cars, dolls, Nerf Guns, and educational toys. They also bought ham and "everything else for a big Christmas dinner."
Officer Brian Smith, 30, was standing by a filled-up shopping cart, wearing a big smile. The father of two said he had helped pick the video game.
"Once in a while, you actually get a chance to help people. And this is what it's about," he said.
Ms. Kosciuczyk said this was the second time someone broke into her house over the week.
The first time last week, a neighbor heard someone break a window in her house, came out, yelled, "hey," and scared them away. He told her he saw two teenage boys running away.
"This time, I was picking up the kids at their grandparents'," she said through tears. "I was gone less than 30 minutes."
Police said the second burglary occurred between 12:15 and 1 p.m. Monday. There were no arrests as of late Christmas Eve.