Strangers come to rescue after nearly $1K in donations stolen from Bonita home

Money raised meant for Rady Children's Hospital

SAN DIEGO - Community members are rallying in support of a Bonita man after the money he raised for children in need was stolen.

Ron Komendera's Christmas spirit is back, now that he gets to present Rady Children's Hospital with lots of donations.

Nearly $1,500 was sent to him all because of what some Grinch did last week.

"It's one thing to steal from me, but it's another thing to steal from children; not only children, but sick children," said Komendera.

For the last four years, Komendera has used a simple jar to collect donations from those inspired by his amazing Christmas light show. The show on his front yard includes 36,000 lights choreographed to 60 songs.

However, someone ruined the celebration by grabbing close to $1,000 in cash.

"Tears were coming out of my eyes by buckets, and I wanted to take it down right then and there because I was so devastated," Komendera said.

Komendera's faith has been restored, thanks to the kindness of strangers.

One local woman who is traveling called from Chicago, and Komendera said, "She says, 'I'm so sorry' and she says, 'I am sending you a check for $1,000.'"

New donations coupled with previous ones total $3,255 and counting.

"I'm hoping to reach $5,000," said Komendera.

All the money goes to Rady Children's Hospital's Child Life program, which is run solely on donations. The program offers comfort and support to ailing children and their families.

Belinda Lanois, who runs the department, said, "I'm just getting goosebumps thinking … I mean, this is Christmas, this is what the holiday spirit is about."

Now, Komendera is not taking any chances. A good Samaritan has built him a metal lockbox for the donations.

"A gorilla and two apes cannot get in there," said Komendera.

He also said he wants the thief to know it's not too late to do the right thing.

"If you have a decent bone in your body, for God sakes, bring the money back, bring it back secretly," said Komendera.

Komendera, who will turn 77 next month, said he may need more help next year to put up the massive display, which takes about two-and-a-half weeks.

The light show runs through New Year's Eve.

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