A Christmas treat for disabled children could be cancelled after thieves raided a charity shop.
Over £1,000 set aside to buy gifts for children and a haul of hampers for the needy were taken when thieves struck at the Well Wish Society in Barnsley.
The culprits broke in through the roof and ransacked the premises before making off with the cash which had been earmarked to buy presents for youngsters at Chancet Wood respite centre in Sheffield.
Hampers containing food and goodies, which are distributed to some of the poorest households in South Yorkshire, were also taken in the overnight burglary.
Police are investigating the burglary, but the Well Wish Society now faces a race against time to save Christmas for the people who look forward to their gift every year.
Phillip Robinson-Jones, Well Wish manager, said: “The place was a mess. They got through a hole in the roof and the safe was totally smashed.
“It is heartbreaking and also a little scary for some of our volunteers.
“Most people who help out the charity are chronically ill themselves.
“We usually deliver to children with severe disabilities at Chancet Wood around the 19th or 20th of December.
“When we go in there you can tell it means so much to them. It’s not just about the present but the experience of having Father Christmas visit them.”
The burglary also threatens Well Wish’s work supplying meals for people being treated at a specialist cystic fibrosis unit in Sheffield.
The Wombwell-based charity is now asking for people to donate £2 towards a new emergency fund for last-minute Christmas gifts.
Mr Robinson-Jones said: “If a few people gave just £2 each we could get that money back together in no time.”
In response local leisure provider BPL has hosted a five-hour Santa bowlathon at Barnsley’s Metrodome Bowl to kickstart the appeal. More than 100 people turned out and raised £355.
A BPL spokesman said: “We simply cannot understand the thought processes of such individuals who have caused so much hurt through an act of unkindness.”
A spokesman for South Yorkshire Police confirmed: “A report of a burglary at a charity shop on High Street, Wombwell, was made to police.
“It is believed between 6pm on December 8, and 9am on December 9, entry was gained to the shop and approximately £1,000 in cash was stolen.”
Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101, quoting incident number 230 of December 9, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Donations to the Well Wish Society’s rescue Christmas appeal can be sent via text by sending the words Rescue Xmas to 70500. Normal message charges apply.