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Toys for Tots Foundation investigating local coordinator

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) - NewsChannel 6 learned of more fallout with the U.S. Marine Corps' signature program helping millions of children in need.  As we first told you last week, investigators with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office are looking into who stole dozens of bikes and other items from the former Toys for Tots warehouse.  But the theft is not all that is under the microscope.  The woman charged with helping to put toys under the tree for girls and boys in need is now the subject of her own organization's investigation.

She made more than 23,000 children happy with more than 86,000 toys during the last Christmas season according to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation's numbers. Now, it is investigating Local Community Organization Volunteer Campaign Coordinator Grace Anderson. She even worked to get what she called low donations up and replace thousands of dollars in allegedly stolen toys during a break-in two months ago. A report was filed with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office a week after Anderson said it happened, but she told us that's because they didn't show up when she said the first call was made October 20.  That is the day she said she discovered several items were gone from the warehouse previously located in the old Winn-Dixie store on Gordon Highway.

She said, "The first thing I did was I had to report it to the Foundation. I did report it to the Foundation. Then I got in touch with the Richmond County Sheriff's Department."

NewsChannel 6 covers the local campaign every year showing how businesses and individuals all step in to help children who otherwise would not have a Merry Christmas. But we uncovered two criminal cases under Anderson's name in Columbia County, one in 2009 and one in 2016 still under investigation.

"Everything is going to come to the head pretty fast," she told NewsChannel 6's Renetta DuBose.

A retired Lieutenant Colonel with the Foundation told us Anderson had a background investigation in 2015 when she first became a volunteer coordinator. No record of any criminal activity or convictions came up. That's because she was indicted for felony identity fraud last November for falsifying a Columbia County jury summons and giving it to her Fort Gordon supervisor as an excuse to be absent from work. A 2009 arrest for having forged and counterfeit items is hidden behind her plea under the first offender act.

"I don't know where you got that information from and I didn't pay a fine," she said.  NewsChannel 6 obtained the public records at the Columbia County Clerk of Courts Office in Evans.

Now, the Foundation is investigating Anderson. Any new applicants, by policy, would not be approved to be a volunteer coordinator if there is negative criminal information on a background check.

They told me once the Foundation is notified of an open criminal investigation they will assess what that investigation concerns and make a decision on the individual at that time.

We will keep following the story.


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