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Ames community gives sweet surprise after thief steals from kids’ lemonade stand

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AMES, Iowa (CNN) -- A cold-hearted thief stole money from a kids' lemonade stand in Ames.

And when the kids reopened their stand, the community showed up big-time.

9-year-old twins Katelyn and Elias Smidt were just having a lemonade stand Monday, but things quickly turned sour.

"We were just selling lemonade and the car drove up and a girl hopped out and I asked if she would like lemonade," Katelyn said. "She said yeah and then she grabbed the tip jar, went to the passenger seat of the car and drove away."

When the family called the police, they say the response was sweeter than they could have imagined.

"I started messaging some of the people that I work with... Asking them to get together and maybe visit the lemonade stand so we could make a difference in Katelyn and Elias's day," Ames Police Officer Celena Rohland said.

The twins re-opened their stand and decided that when life gives you lemons, you just keep making lemonade.

Four different law enforcement agencies showed up to help them raise back the money that was stolen.

But the support kept coming, and one day later, business was booming.

Katelyn and Elias' mom Karen says this life lesson makes it all worth it.

"There was one bad apple, but they got to feel the goodness of so many more people and one bad apple will not ruin it for us. We are pressing on," Karen Smidt said.

The family says they've now raised over $750 and they plan to donate it all to the Shop with a Cop program. They say they're just excited to give back to the community that supported them.