Lakeland man collects gift cards for elderly fire victims

Repair work is still being done at the Lake Morton Plaza high rise nearly two weeks after a fire forced more than 100 senior citizens to evacuate.

They were relocated to other facilities and now are left wondering when they'll be able to return home again.  But a Lakeland man is doing his part to help them 

When Alex Gomez was a Lakeland police officer, he patrolled their area.  Now, he's collecting gift cards for the residents he still considers his friends.

“I am hoping soon that they get back because it brings that normal life back, because they have all those friends there that they have made,” he explained.

Friends and relatives took some of the seniors in.  Others ended up in others facilities in Brooksville and Winter Haven.  They are going to be unsettled in temporary housing until their real home is livable again.

Repair crews say the building’s elevator, sprinkler system, and alarm are all functioning again.  But a spokesman for the management company says they're still working on the air conditioning and electricity.

There’s no word when they are going to be done, so in the meantime, Gomez is pushing for donations -- hoping it’s a small consolation until his friends are able to enjoy the comforts of home again, which no amount of money can buy.

"I am at $500, close to $600 now,” he added.

Anyone interested in donating can do so through the Lakeland Police Department.