ROWLEY (CBS)– The youth group at the First Congregational Church can now help many more people because of generous donations.

On December 21, as more than a hundred people worshiped 25 feet away, thieves stole $800 worth of gift cards intended for the needy.

“We don’t have a lot of crime down here and to have something like this. And to have something like this happen under our noses was horrendous,” said Rev. Bob Hagopian.

The doors to the church hall were open.

“It was like the sanctity of the day and of our church was invaded, was ruined,” said Rev. Hagopian.

In the weeks that followed, strangers and community members began donating.

“We have been inundated with love and support,” said Rev. Hagopian.

“I remember making a bet with my dad by how much we think we’d get. We both lost by a long shot. We never thought we’d get this much,” said 15 year old Matt Blouin.

Donations totaled $28,000 in gift cards and gifts.

“All the things they’ve been begging me for years we can now do,” said youth group leader, Lisa Stevens.

The Youth Group plans to help several charitable organizations throughout the region, including food pantries.

“The lesson that all these donors are helping to teach our youth is that this is a good world,” said Rev. Hagopian.

MORE LOCAL NEWS FROM CBS BOSTON

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