Families displaced by hotel fire getting help

- Dozens of families will spend the holiday weekend in a temporary shelter after a fire ripped through their homes. Saturday, Santa stopped by to meet with the kids affected and help hand out toys.

The Red Cross says about 150 people are staying at Kissimmee Middle School after a fire broke out at the Unno Boutique Hotel Friday. Many people had been staying there for months.

“We wanted to make this Christmas the best. We saved, we bought them everything they wanted, everything they asked for and it’s all gone two days before Christmas,” said Joseph Craig, who was living at the hotel with his family.

He says the visit from Santa and the chance for his kids to pick out toys made the situation a little easier for his three young kids.

“The youngest one said, ‘I told you, he’s real, he’s coming!’ And my son just smiled. Turned around with a big smile,” Craig said.

The holiday surprise is just one part of how the community has been helping. Food, clothes and other things people need have been pouring in since Friday.

“It has been overwhelming. Done a couple of these, it’s always amazing to see the community but Kissimmee seems to have a heart and it really stepping up to the plate with donations,” said Steve Thompson, Red Cross Disaster Program Manager.

He says on Monday, the displaced residents will be able to meet with people to help with housing.

Craig is hoping the fire means a fresh start for his family. A chance to move out of the hotel and into their own home.

“It’s easing it a little bit – I have something to tell the kids – like we’re not gonna be down and out. The year’s gonna get better,” he said.

The county is accepting donations for the families. The drop off location is the Osceola Council on Aging in Kissimmee.

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