Natasha Brunson pulled the gun from the mom and baby teddy bear set, thinking the weapon was another toy that had fallen into the box. It was fortunately inoperable: the firing pin had been removed and someone had taken the time to scratch off the serial numbers.
Natasha's foster mother, Sheeba Anderson, 42, told the New York Post she picked up two bags of already-wrapped gifts last week from a St. Anthony's Church in Soho to give to the six foster children in her care.
"This is something you never expect on Christmas," Anderson said. "I feel like we narrowly avoided what could have been a terrible disaster. I couldn't calm down all day."
Anderson said she immediately grabbed the other gifts and examined them for other dangerous items, but found nothing else.
The gifts were donated to St. Anthony's anonymously through the New York City Administration for Children's Services, meaning it will be difficult for police to track down the gun's previous owner and who may have put it in the box.
According to the Children's Defense Fund, nearly 3,000 children a year die from guns in the United State, and six times as many suffer non-fatal injuries from guns.