Ava Buondonno's electric Barbie Jeep that was taken from the family’s driveway. After her mother, Karen, wrote a letter to The Press of Atlantic City, a brand new Barbie Jeep appeared on the Buondonnos’ porch.

Karen Buondonno’s faith that there are plenty of good people in the world has been renewed, but it was a rough road getting there.

Last week, the Linwood resident wrote a letter to The Press of Atlantic City addressing “the heartless thief who stole my daughter’s only birthday present,” an electric Barbie Jeep that was taken from the family’s driveway.

A few weeks after Ava received the Jeep, Buondonno and her husband, Gary, forgot to put it away. When they woke up, it was gone. Knowing they would not be able to afford another one, Karen Buondonno wrote the letter, not looking for charity, but to express her anger.

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The morning after the letter appeared, a brand new Barbie Jeep appeared on the Buondonnos’ porch, donated by an anonymous businessman. E-mails and phone calls poured in. A local pizzeria offered a pizza party. Another man insisted on giving Ava $100 to buy gifts, and someone else gave her a $250 Toys R Us gift certificate.

The Buondonnos plan to pay forward those random acts of kindness. They will donate another Jeep and other gifts to Heaven’s Helpers, a group that helps local people with cancer.

“A bad experience turned out to be something unbelievable,” Karen Buondonno said. “The outpouring of the community is so kind. We didn’t write the letter to get all of this stuff. We are not destitute. But we did it to get the message out about what a bad thing that person did. But in the end, our children learned there are more good people than bad people, and we forgive the thief.”

Short stories

n Tabitha D’umo — a Galloway Township native known for her choreography on national television shows such as Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance” and MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew” — and her husband, Napoleon D’Umo, are casting a new network television show and are looking for talented, local dancers. E-mail your name, contact information and age to FlashMobShow@gmail.com.

n Little Egg Harbor Township siblings Gaten and Sabrina Matarazzo performed a duet during the 2010 U.S. Open. Gaten, 7, and Sabrina, 11, were among 15 vocalists ages 12 and younger selected to perform at the prestigious tennis tournament. They went to Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, N.Y., for the first time to sing several patriotic numbers. They were selected from a June audition pool of about 260 children.

Everyone Has a Story appears Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays. To share your story, call Scott Cronick at 609-272-7017 or e-mail him at:


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