Retired Lakeland officer raising money for Lake Morton Plaza's displaced senior citizens

LAKELAND, Fla. — Lakeland senior citizens are out of a home and now out of food.

It’s been nearly a week since a fire forced more than 100 seniors out a Lakeland assisted living facility.

Still, residents haven’t been able to return to Lake Morton Plaza.

Now, a retired Lakeland Police Officer is doing the best he can to help them.

Alex Gomez, who recently retired, is now collecting gift cards to help replenish their groceries.

“They explained to me they had to shut the power off, so a bunch of the residents lost their food,” Gomez said.

A fire started on the roof of Lake Morton Plaza last week, and while flames never threatened residents, smoke did fill the entire building. 

Residents are being housed at sister assisted living facilities and/or their family’s homes. 

When the retired officer, Alex Gomez heard about Lake Morton Plaza going up in flames, he had to jump in to help.

“20 years in the City of Lakeland, I had to jump in and see what I could do,” Gomez said.

Gomez has ties to the assisted living facility. 

The area was a part of his patrol when he was an officer for the city.

He also made a special bond with one of the residents, Ike, who turned 107 this past January.

ABC Action News was there to cover the party and learned that Gomez would stop by to play Wii Bowling with the senior and his friends every so often.

Being a natural-born public servant, Gomez felt the need to reach out despite not being in uniform any longer.

So, he put a post up on Facebook, asking for the public’s help.

“I started this Friday and by today I’m up to about $580 in gift cards alone,” Gomez said.

Lake Morton Residents are still not back, but when they do return, they will be back home with a fridge full of food.

“To be at the number I’m at now, I’m just astonished,” Gomez said.

If you’d like to donate, drop off a donation or a Publix gift card at the Lakeland Police Department.

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