RIVERSIDE (CBSLA) — Back in October, thieves were caught on camera taking nearly $20,000 worth of items from American Legion Post 289 in Riverside.

The post was in the middle of a massive renovation with the hopes of surprising members with a grand reopening on Veterans Day.

“They took everything,” Post Commander Michael “Irish” Buchner said at the time. “Who steals from veterans?”

After the robbery, the planned reopening seemed like a long shot — until the community stepped in to lend a hand.

“It was natural for us and instinctive for us to jump in and try to help out,” Sean Hartranft, with the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, said.

Hartranft said his group saw the story about the theft and knew they had to help.

“We were able to put in the flooring, build a subfloor, jack the ceilings up and replace the beams and do the drywall,” he said. “We were able to get all that done in five days.”

“These guys show up, the carpenters union, and I kind of thought he was pulling my chain when he said that ‘We wanna kind of take over and finish what you’ve got,'” he said. “I haven’t stopped smiling since they showed up.

“I mean, they were here five days and knocked out more than I could in five months,” he continued. “It was a pleasure to watch. Usually, we’re the ones giving back to the community and this time it came back, and it’s really emotional. It’s wonderful to know how the public feels about veterans.”

And, thanks to the help of the carpenters union and other community members, Post 289 was able to hold its grand opening on Veterans Day.

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