AZUSA, Calif. (KABC) --A grieving mother who lost her young son to cancer took up a toy collection to donate to a children's hospital in his memory - only to have the toys stolen.
Six months ago, Melissa Alvarez lost her 5-year-old son Anthony to cancer.
"He had the best spirit. This little boy, he was something else. He had a good heart," Alvarez said. "He was loving, he was caring. No matter what he was going through, he never cried about it, he never fussed about it."
Before he passed, Anthony told his mom what he would like at his sixth birthday party.
When his birthday, July 29, arrived, Alvarez threw that party in her son's honor and asked guests to bring with them a toy to donate to Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
"Just something I could give back to the kids on the cancer floor," Alvarez said.
Partygoers brought piles of toys that were set to be donated next week. But Alvarez took the toys and stored them outside after her landlord told her the home would be fumigated. Alvarez didn't want kids to receive toxic toys.
"So I left them outside thinking they were going to be safe in my backyard," Alvarez said.
They were not safe. Overnight, thieves, who are always quick to target a tented house, made off with most of the toys. To make things worse, they even took some of Anthony's personal belongings as well as Alvarez's mother's medication.
"I know I have a lot to remind me of him in my heart, but that's just cruel. Who can do that?" Alvarez said.
Now, Anthony's family is begging to have his stuff returned.
"He's not even here to even open any presents for his birthday. It's so sad," said Debra Alvarez, Anthony's grandmother, fighting tears.
Anthony's mother is hoping the culprits will come forward and do the right thing.
"I just want my story to be heard and hopefully these people, whoever took this stuff, is kind-hearted people and will just return it. Leave it in my front yard. That's all I ask," she said.
Police are looking for the thieves. However, there are no security cameras nearby, so investigators have little to go on.
Since Anthony's story aired on Eyewitness News on Thursday, we've already received calls from some of you wanting to help. Anthony's personal items may never be returned, but Eyewitness News viewers have decided to step in and help replace the stolen toys.