Durham church asks for help after Christmas gifts stolen

DURHAM (WTVD) -- The Saint Joseph's Episcopal Church is asking for help after a break-in Saturday. The thief stole over $1,000 worth of Christmas gifts for children of the church and left behind hundreds of dollars' worth of damage.

The church houses two small congregations. The thief stole Christmas presents from the Saint Basil's Romania Orthodox congregation as well as petty cash from the Episcopal congregation.

Jonathan Jones, the head warden at Saint Joseph's Episcopal Church said a thief broke into the church, kicked open several wooden doors, and stole the presents hidden right behind the altar.

Jones said the presents were gifts from the Romanian Orthodox priest, Father Daniel, to the children of the congregation. Most have been replaced now, but what will be harder to replace are the three 100 year-old doors that were ruined. Each one costs around $400-$500.

Jones said the worst part about the break-in is that the church works to help those in need, so he can't understand why someone would chose to steal presents from children instead.

"It's just a level of depravity that is heartbreaking," Jones said. "We're just a pair of very small congregations. We do an incredible amount of outreach, and quite frankly had the person asked us for help, we would have done everything we could have to help them."

"But to feel the need to just break in and take, that's just really heartbreaking."

If you want to help the congregations, they're accepting donations at St. Joseph's Episcopal Church on West Main and Iredell Street. They're open every morning from 8-9 a.m. and in the evening at 5:30 p.m.

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