Struggling amid pandemic, American Legion post in Monterey Park holds Valentine's Day pop-up

MONTEREY PARK, Calif. (KABC) -- The pandemic has crippled an American Legion post in Monterey Park that's been helping veterans for 90 years and a recent burglary has added to its struggles.

On Saturday, the post set up a Valentine's Day pop-up in the parking lot to raise much needed funds.

"Our business runs solely on our hall. It's how we make our money, we rent the hall for birthdays, anniversaries and what not," said Gabriel Suarez, the commander of Post 397.

In early January, burglars took tools, ladders, chairs and other equipment from the American Legion post, only adding to a series of financial setbacks. Suarez says that's where the pop-up comes in.

"This way, people can come in from the community and purchase something. It helps out the vendors, but it also brings more attention to our post so that we can continue doing these projects," he said.

With COVID-19 hitting the community hard, Post 397 has been focused on helping those in need, becoming the only American Legion in the nation to run an ongoing food bank and serving, not just veterans but, anyone who needs the help.

Now, the post is the one who needs the assistance to keep its doors open so they can continue their decades of service.

"Our community is the biggest thing that's important to us and the American Legion reaches out to all of our veterans who need help. We have veterans with PTSD, we have veterans that need assistance of all types," Suarez added.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the post stay open and continue its food bank, which has now served more than 10,000 people.
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