A kind-hearted schoolgirl has been hailed a hero after she donated her Diwali money to the Royal British Legion after a crook stole a poppy collection tin.
Earlier this month, a lowlife thief was caught on CCTV wandering into a corner shop and stealing the tin containing £35 of donations intended for injured servicemen.
Footage showed the bald-headed crook, in his 30s, pace in front of the counter dressed in a green jacket and grey tracksuit bottoms eying up the charity pot.
He then picked up the red Royal British Legion box, stuffed it under his coat and sprinted out of Radhas News in Russell Street, Loughborough at 8.30pm on October 28.
Following the theft, concerned eight-year-old Aneya Chauhan told her dad, Jignesh, that she wanted to give her £40 Diwali present to the legion.
Aneya said: “My grandparents gave me the money for Diwali and I wanted to donate it to the Poppy Appeal because I like helping people and they help soldiers and soldiers’ families.
“I was going to buy some pencil cases with it but I thought about it and talked with Dad and I said I wanted to give it away.”
Aneya, of Enderby, Leics., previously donated £60 to the Royal British Legion two years ago after reading about another poppy tin theft from Courthouse Cafe in Loughborough town centre.
That time it was money she had been planning to spend on a new hamster and, after hearing about Aneya’s generosity, Pets at Home in Leicester gave her a hamster and cage for free.
Jignesh, 47, said his daughter enjoys supporting all sorts of different causes and had recently donated all her toys to homeless children in India.
He said: “We recently saw the pictures of the man stealing the poppy box from the shop in Loughborough and she said, ‘Oh, that’s really bad’.
“Because we’ve just had Diwali, she wanted to do what she did last time and donate her money she’d received to the Royal British Legion.”
“She loves it. She does a lot of walks and runs. She was in India in December last year and she took her toys and board games to give to a charity over there that helps homeless children.
“It was amazing. She just loves doing that sort of thing.”
A Royal British Legion spokesperson said: “We were shocked and saddened to hear of the recent theft of a poppy collecting tin.
“This loss will deprive those in the service and ex-service community and their families of much-needed assistance and support from the legion.
“However, thanks to the generosity of Aneya, we are able to utilise her donation to support in so many ways.
“The money raised through the Poppy Appeal and donated by such kind acts as Aneya’s goes directly to The Royal British Legion’s work, providing support through life to anyone who is currently serving in the British Armed Forces, veterans and their families.”