By Cleve Bryan
VINELAND, NJ (CBS) – Generosity overcomes thievery as donors replace 70 Christmas wreaths stolen from the New Jersey Veterans Memorial Home Cemetery in Vineland.
“It’s great that we still have individuals who are willing to appreciate the sacrifice and the freedom that we have,” says Grant Connelly, of the American Legion post in Vineland.
On Friday morning, staff at the home noticed that wreaths were missing after being placed there December 7th during a national wreath-laying ceremony.
“I was sickened, absolutely sickened, that anyone would take something away from a war hero,” says Lisa Williams, recreation director at the home.
Williams believes the thieves took the wreaths to resell them.
A report with the Vineland Police Department estimates the wreaths’ value at $350.
After learning of the theft, the Bottino family, which owns several Shoprite supermarkets in South Jersey, decided to donate 70 replacement wreaths.
“The veterans are people we should show the ultimate respect. They defend our country, so there’s no better thing we can do than to help them out,” says Bill Bottino, Jr.
More donations also poured in from local business and organizations so the wreaths would have bows, and there are now extra evergreen decorations at the cemetery.
“It was just a tremendous kick for our Christmas spirit to see that people really do care about us, they care about our home and they care about our veterans,” says Williams.