Toys for Tots theft elicits goodwill from Neapolitans

Clock Restaurant

670 Tamiami Trail North
Naples, FL
Phone: 239-261-6724

Quite frankly, somehow the Clock is easy to ignore, despite the fact that it has occupied highway frontage at 670 U.S. 41 N. for at least 30 years. (It sort of resembles those trusty but nondescript chains like Ho Jo ...

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— Neapolitans have answered the call to charity after a cash box for Toys for Tots was stolen from a Naples restaurant Tuesday night.

Gus Stettner, manager at the Clock Restaurant in downtown Naples, says after the story broke Wednesday about the theft, area residents have been pouring into the restaurant with cash in hand.

“It’s overwhelming,” Stettner said in a telephone interview Thursday afternoon. “A guy walked in first thing this morning and handed me a hundred dollar bill. He said: ‘I just finished reading the article in the paper and couldn’t believe what happened.’”

Stettner said many people have walked in, handed him a check and left, not even bothering to eat.

“I’ve always believed that in times of crisis, people are generous,” Stettner said. “Words couldn’t describe what I feel.”

Joe Johnston, coordinator for Toys for Tots in Collier County, also described the community’s response as “overwhelming," adding that they have had to return to the Clock Restaurant twice Thursday to empty the cash box.

“Our heartfelt thanks goes out to the citizens of Collier County,” Johnston said.

The theft occurred Tuesday night 10:15 and 10:20 at the Clock Restaurant, 670 U.S. 41 N. Employees told police that while working in the back of the restaurant, the small donation box for Toys for Tots, a Marine Corps Reserve charity that gives toys to children in need during the holiday season, was stolen from the front of the restaurant.

According to the police report, an employee noticed a customer hanging around the front counter near the donation box. Upon being questioned, the customer said he was waiting for someone, but disappeared after employees returned from working in the back. The donation box was also gone.

The individual was described to police as a white male in his early 20s with reddish or blond hair, a slender build, wearing jeans, a jacket and riding a small motor scooter.

The case was turned over to the Criminal Investigation Bureau of the Naples Police Department.

Donations for Toys for Tots continue to be accepted through Friday, with delivery to the children scheduled for Saturday. For more information, contact Joe Johnston at (239) 207-5198, or joe.johnston1@comcast.net.

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