Donation Jar for Wounded Veteran Stolen

It's never happened to Lois Barber or Aref Ahmed before. Someone stole a donation jar meant to help a wounded veteran.

"I'm not from a military family, but I'm an American. These are American soldiers, and we must step forward and help them," said Barber.

Barber fundraises for Homes for Our Troops, which builds specially-adapted houses for veterans returning home with life-changing injuries.

For the fundraiser she created a Beautiful Baby Photo Contest that's been running for years. It costs $10 for people to enter a photo of their baby on a donation jar, and then people donate. The baby that gathers the most cash gets to participate in the Newtown Labor Day parade. And the money goes to help a wounded warrior.

But the jar inside Aref Ahmed's Le Bobadel Gourmet Market in Middlebury is the second one. That's because the first one was stolen.

"I feel kind of responsible because it happened at the store," said Ahmed.

During the busy Independence Day holiday weekend, organizers say someone ran off with the jar and cash inside.

"It's just terrible," said Ahmed.

Terrible because the donations were meant for Army Specialist Sean Pesce, a fire support specialist with the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. In 2012, while on his first deployment to Afghanistan, his unit was ambushed. Pesce was shot 13 times, and it left him paralyzed from the waist down.

The now 24-year-old lives in West Haven and had to relearn everything, so a home fit for his needs is the next big step to getting his life back on track.

"He has lost so much for us, and we need to give back to him," said Barber.

From the crime, came kindness and charity. Ahmed donated money from his own business, and customers have streamed in after hearing about the theft - giving more than what was taken. And Barber and Ahmed hope many more will give.

"Come on down. We have the jar here. I'll protect it personally. Donate as much as you can," said Ahmed.

Specialist Sean Pesce hopes to study business and political science and eventually open his own restaurant. To learn more about him and his story, you can head here

Another wounded warrior in Connecticut is also in need of getting a home built. To read about Marine Corporal Roguer Rua, head here.

If you would like to donate to Homes for Our Troops, head here.

You can request that your donation go to a specific wounded warrior.

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