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Houstonians come to the aid of WWII veteran

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

As temperatures hovered in the high seventies on a beautiful Friday afternoon, Bert Harvey was volunteering his time to manage a construction project in Northeast Houston.

His weekend plans include installing new siding a home owned by Elbert Wood, a man who was a stranger before this week.

This is no ordinary construction project.  But then again, Elbert Wood is no ordinary man.

The project, organized just two days ago, is the result of kind-hearted Texans who just couldn't stand the thought of Wood, a World War Two veteran and recent widower, dealing with the mess two teenagers created.

We first met  Wood, a former Marine, shortly after he arrive home from a Tuesday morning doctor's appointment and discovered vandals had broken into his house.

Teenage boys spray painted graffiti on his walls, furniture and keepsakes.

A few news reports led to an interview with radio talk show host Michael Berry.  

And that interview led Harvey to Wood, along with a couple hundred others.

"The electricians, the plumbers, and AC guys are wrapping up," Harvey said.  "They've replaced everything in this house. It's all up to code. It's all new and everything works."

Mark Wood, Elbert's son, watched total strangers transformed his father's house.

"You just can't fathom all the generosity and kindness," he said.  "It's just an amazing thing. It's a once in a lifetime experience."

A new roof? Check.

New insulation? Done.

Generator? Installed.

Exterior siding? Gone, thanks to a new generation of Marines who also tore down an existing fence to prepare for a new one.

"It was a low chain link fence that allowed easy access," Harvey said.  "The fence was donated. It will be a tall seven foot cedar security fence."

Someone also donated a "senior-friendly" security system.

"Between the Marine guard that's gonna be on a patrol, the Houston police department, the security system, (and) my dad's got a 20 gauge shotgun," Mark Wood said.  "I really feel sorry for anyone that tries to get in after it's done."

When it is all done, Mr. Wood will have a new irrigation system, backyard deck, freshly painted walls and new flooring.  The list goes on. All of it, from supplies to labor, donated by volunteers eager to make a wrong, right.

"Everything that needs to be done, there's multiple people offering to do it," Harvey said.  "We have to pick and choose or say, 'you do the front. You do the back. You do the inside. You do the outside'."

Elbert Wood is staying in a retirement home while the home he shared with his late wife gets a makeover.

But even with all the new gadgets and upgrades, chances are he'll recognize the original, but re-polished hardwood floors.  Harvey tried to keep his personal touches intact, including a special tribute Wood installed many years ago in honor of his wife's love of a particular kind of flower.

"Mr. Wood built this house himself," Harvey said.  "There was a mosaic he put in the (bathroom). It was a flower. When we were doing the demolition, everyone talked about it, and decided it was best to leave that."

"My mom loves irises, and she's looking down from Heaven with a big smile on her face," Mark Wood said.  "And my dad's gonna appreciate it as well."

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