TAMPA, Fla. -- To honor the hundreds of men and women working relentlessly in the hunt for the Seminole Heights killer, the community will hold a First Responders Appreciation Dinner on Monday as a way of saying “thank you” for their service.
"As a community, we felt like this was the least we could do is just sit them down, feed them a nice hot meal and say 'thank you' for everything they're doing for us," said Stan Lasater, president of the Southeast Seminole Heights Civic Association.
Lasater said every neighborhood association in Seminole Heights has pitched in to help. Local businesses and volunteers have also made donations for the dinner.
"The more we can help the officers and first responders who are out there trying to help us catch the bad guy, the better," said Joe Parker, a chef who donated his time and skill to preparing food for the dinner. "If we can give them a hot meal, they don't have to worry about sitting down and eating on the road, then that's even better."
Lasater said Monday's dinner exemplifies the strength of a community that continues to triumph, even through tragedy.
Other volunteers agreed.
"The energy and the glue that keeps us all together is just getting stringer and stronger, even in the face of something so dark," said Brian Frey, president of the Hampton Terrace community association.
Lasater said volunteers hesitated to ask local businesses to make contributions because so many are getting fewer patrons because of the murders. However, he said many stepped in to help anyway.
Donations are still welcome. Those interested in making a contribution should visit www.SESeminoleHeights.org.