Charity packages for Haitian orphans end up in Winter Springs dumpster



WINTER SPRINGS, Fla. - Stefano LaCommare arrives early every day to begin prep work at his Italian restaurant in Winter Springs.

When he arrived on Tuesday he said he noticed the dumpster out back was open.

Inside, Stefano found eight big boxes, each one carefully labeled. He opened the one on top, and found smaller containers, some labeled for boys, others for girls. Each box was a package of gifts..

"We opened the boxes, it was pencils, socks, everything," said LaCommare. "Why would they throw it away like that? Time, money, little children, a box, a ball, things we take for granted."

The boxes were the work of students at Community United Methodist Church in Casselberry. The students visited Haiti recently and decided to send toys and supplies to kids they met at orphanages.

"Even though some of our kids and adults that went on the trip knew that their box wouldn't necessarily get to a kid they connected with there, they knew it was going to an orphanage and the kid they connected with was going to get a box," said Tim Dix, youth minister at the church.

Dix said a man who promised the church he could get the packages delivered at no cost came back asking for money.

Investigators said after the man was told the money was being sent directly to Haiti, he apparently took the care packages and threw them away. Those packages would have been lost if not for Stefano and Marie LaCommare.

"It really speaks to the heart of people that it can't be stopped," said Stephano LaCommare.

The church will collect the care packages from the Seminole County Sheriff's Office.

The man who is believed to have dumped the gifts hasn't been located.

Investigators said that because no money changed hands, the man would likely not face any criminal charges.