Opa-locka veterans non-profit gives thanks for aid

OPA-LOCKA, Fla. (WSVN) — A South Florida non-profit that was burglarized in December is back in business.

The Make A Wish Veterans organization got a wish come true in 2016 after becoming crime victims last month.

The organization was burglarized ahead of the holidays, but now they are thanking those who helped them. "What we are doing right here today is we are thanking everyone who reached out for us," said Melinda Buford with the Make A Wish Veterans, "and we appreciate all your help."

The community offered aid to the charity after their office and food storage pantry were cleaned out by burglars.

Wal-Mart and Publix joined a host of others companies, including the Miami Heat, who came to their rescue. "Once we heard what happened at this Make A Wish Veterans, we wanted to come in right away to provide food for today’s feeding and make sure they don’t run out of food for a long time," said a Miami Heat spokesperson.

The grateful veterans and their family members who showed up for Friday’s event said the charity does more than just put food in their stomachs. "If it wasn’t for them, I would be homeless or on a welfare line," said one veteran.

Some of the volunteers are veterans themselves. "Retired veteran, been in the Army 21 years," said Air Force Veteran Ed Camacho. "I helped support the troops in my town, so I appreciate what y’all are doing for us."

More than 100 beneficiaries showed up and received bags of chicken wings, cereal, spaghetti, snacks, canned goods, juice, produce, bread and even new socks, and every one of them appreciated it.

One vet even expressed his joy in song. "Right now, times are hard, money is scarce, and at this new year’s you are showing a great asset to our community," said veteran BJ Stanford, and we say thank you, Lord."

The organizers are also overjoyed. "We want to reach out and give a shout out to everybody that reached out and had kind hearts and gave to this organization," said Make A Wish Veterans assistant manager Princess Fuller. "Thank you so very much and God bless you."

The burglars who ransacked the Make A Wish Veterans office still have not been caught.

If you have any information on this burglary, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $1,000 reward.