SOUTH GLENDALE — Donations have poured in for a family of a 6-year-old boy who died of leukemia and whose collection jar to help pay for his funeral was stolen last week.
The donations — which as of Tuesday totaled at least $5,800 — will allow Eduardo Morales-Pena's family to recoup the $300 loss and then some after the Glendale police officer who responded to the theft call started soliciting contributions.
Arthur Madoyan was arrested on suspicion of theft two days after the collection jar was stolen Aug. 15 from the El Mexicano Meat Market at 836 S. Glendale Ave.
"I didn't expect this," his sister, Anyeli Morales, said after receiving two checks from police and fire officials on Tuesday. "It's a shock, and it's really helpful."
Glendale Police Officer Matthew Wilson, a decorated Marine who has twice been deployed to Iraq, responded to the theft call and after discovering the money was being collected for Eduardo's funeral, began soliciting donations from fellow officers.
"I just kind of felt if you have the means necessary to make an impact, you might as well do it," Wilson said.
As word of the theft spread throughout the media, donations from the community began flowing into the Police Department, whose officers have donated hundreds of dollars so far.
"We just tried to make a positive out of something that was negative," Wilson said. "I couldn't imagine what it is like to lose a kid, and on top of that just being in a position that you can't pay for it."
The 99 Cents Only store on San Fernando Road donated $3,999, and another $500 came from the charitable Glendale Fireman's Club. Wilson's family also donated funds, as did the Media City Ballet Company, Armenian American Chamber of Commerce, the Law Offices of William Salle and several other anonymous donors.
Emilia Parra, owner of El Mexicano Meat Market, said a woman donated $300, a sheriff's deputy contributed another $100, and a family from Downey gave $40. She estimated about $1,000 had been collected for the family so far.