Wheatfield community raising money to help homeless veteran

WHEATFIELD, N.Y. (WIVB) — A homeless veteran is recovering from burn injuries at ECMC after the building he was seeking shelter in — caught fire. Now the town of Wheatfield is helping him recover in life this Christmas.

“He never asks for anything. And I just, I feel like I’m drawn to him for some reason, like I need to reach out to him,” said Peter Maglio.

For the past several years, Peter Maglio says he’s befriended a man named Fred, a homeless veteran, he’s sees around his Wheatfield neighborhood.

“He’s like a little celebrity in Wheatfield,” said Heather Maglio, Peter’s wife.

“Whenever I see him at 7-Eleven, I usually stop by, get him a gift card for 7-Eleven, give him money,” said Peter.

But recently people haven’t seen freed outside of 7-Eleven because he’s at ECMC recovering from being badly burned in a recent fire.

Maglio says Fred was seeking shelter in an abandoned building when it caught fire…he was trapped inside.

“He said he didn’t want to die so he tried to run through the fire to get out,” said Peter.

Fred suffered burns on his hands and legs. Maglio and his wife Heather recently visited Fred in the hospital and says he had one Christmas wish.

“He does want to be in a new situation and one thing he did want for Christmas was a Walkman so we went and got him one,” said Heather.

A new Walkman isn’t the only Christmas gift Fred is getting this year. Heather set up a GoFundMe page which has raised nearly $6,000 — in less than 24 hours — for Fred to get back on his feet.

She says the money will go towards finding him a place to live.

“The support has been amazing from the town of Wheatfield residents it’s really just amazing. Police officers have contacted me, little kids from different schools wanted to do things, just support from everywhere. He’s really kind of showing the community of Wheatfield what Christmas is about,” said Heather.

The couple says they’re Christmas wish is to make sure when Fred is released from the hospital, he’ll have a home for the holidays.

“I just believe God brought us to him or he brought him to us in the town of Wheatfield,” said Peter.

The Maglio’s say people have also offered furniture and other items to give to Fred. They’re hoping to work with the VA clinic to find a place for Fred. You can find the link to the GoFundMe page here.

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