Someone with sticky fingers put a damper on efforts by a Good Samaritan to collect items for men and women serving in the U.S. Navy.

Donna Breunig has been part of efforts to collect items for sailors aboard a U.S. navy ship deployed off Central America conducting operations to fight organized crime.

The collection is organized by the National Association of Naval Veterans (NANV) Port 5 in Bridgeport, joined by Molly’s Adopt a Sailor.

Molly’s Adopt a Sailor is a nonprofit organization that collects everyday items that sailors, soldiers, marines, and airmen do not have, and sends them along with cards and letters to their adopted servicemen and women. Items being collected include personal hygiene products for men and women, snacks, decorations, toiletries, letters, games, books, and other comforts of home.

The Trumbull Library was kind enough to allow Breunig to place a collection box in the lobby, with a sign that explained what the collection was for. Breunig put a few items in the box herself, just to give people an idea of what the drive was all about.

“I bought about $20 worth of stuff and I went back there a week later, which is last Monday or Tuesday, and everything was gone, except for one book,” Breunig said this week.

Breunig wasn’t sure if someone had taken the items, thinking they were for a food drive that also had a box set up nearby, or if it was stolen. So she made a bigger sign, explaining what the collection was for and asking people not to remove anything from the box.

Unfortunately, she received another call this week from one of the librarians, saying that items the librarian had donated were gone, too. The librarian had made a co“She asked if I had been around to pick up items from the box and I hadn’t,” Breunig said of the librarian. “She had made a very nice contribution and walked out a little while later to see it was all gone.”

Trumbull Library Director Susan Horton said she was sorry to hear items were taken. With people coming in and out all day, the library has no way to police the various donation boxes in the lobby, Horton said. There can be several collection boxes out at a time.

“I think the best way to avoid that happening is to collect regularly,” Horton said. “I know the one box for the food pantry is collected daily.”

The total value of the items wasn’t much, though Breunig said others could have donated and those items might have been taken, too. She is more upset that someone would take from a good cause.

“It’s very frustrating,” Breunig said of the stolen items. “I’m trying to pack for 245 males and three females aboard the USS Rentz.”

She has decided to remove the collection box so it can’t happen again.

“I don’t want all these wonderful people donating so someone could steal it,” Breunig said.

But the bright side is that Trumbull residents have been very generous, especially at a recent collection her daughter and other students set up outside Stop & Shop.

“We must have gotten $150 to $200 worth of goods donated and $154 in cash, including a donation Stop & Shop gave us,” Breunig said.

She will still be collecting donations, but she asks that people call her at 203-521-6935 or email donnabreunig@yahoo.com if they want to drop something off or find out more about the collection.

All items must be dropped off by Friday, Oct. 25, so that they can boxed and shipped in time for the holidays.