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Stolen trailer full of holiday gifts for Chicago kids found empty

Dec. 2 (UPI) -- A stolen shipping container filled with donated gifts for 2,500 needy Chicago children was found Thursday, but its cargo of holiday cheer was gone, charity organizers said.

After disappearing last month from a parking lot in the city's South Side Englewood neighborhood, the trailer was found by police 20 miles away in suburban Chicago Heights -- but minus nearly $50,000 in donated items, the Chicago Sun-Times and WMAQ-TV reported.

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Delece Williams, founder of the Chicago charity Kidz Korna, said the gifts were being collected for the group's Winter Wonderland Giveaway Drive-By & Tour, and included toys, new clothes, shoes and essential items.

Another charity group, Flags of the Heart, which supports veterans and their families, also had hundreds of new coats and toys in the container, which had been provided by rail carrier CSX.

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"There were a few things but no toys," Flags of the Heart founder Sharon Preston said after viewing the recovered trailer. "Things were thrown on the ground, and some [were] recoverable, but most [were] not."

Police were alerted after the trailer was discovered missing in mid-November. A tow-truck driver who was seen in the area told authorities he had been paid to remove the container, but assumed the reason was legitimate.

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Police said the driver is not currently not "a person of interest" in the case, the Sun-Times reported. No one is yet in custody as the investigation continues.

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Both charities said they are working to replace the stolen items and urged those who want to help to make donations at the Kidz Korna and Flags of the Heart websites.

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