Donors replace Christmas presents damaged in fighting downtown fire

L.A. mayor's office raises money to replace 2,000 presents for senior citizens destroyed by Monday's fire

A campaign led by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's wife, Amy Wakeland, to replace thousands of water-damaged Christmas presents for seniors has met its goal, city officials said.

Heat and smoke from a blaze Monday at a seven-story downtown apartment construction site set off sprinklers at a nearby building that houses the city's Department of Aging. Approximately 2,000 gifts that were stored there and scheduled to be distributed this week to senior citizens were ruined.

As of Thursday evening, the campaign, which began the day before, had raised enough to purchase 2,000 gifts; more than 1,000 donors had contributed more than $100,000, including an anonymous donation of $50,000, according to the mayor's office.

After meeting that goal, Wakeland announced that she's now aiming to raise money for 4,500 presents.

"There are many more seniors who need help, so let's keep up the momentum and brighten the holidays for more people who could use some basic necessities and cheer," she said in a statement Thursday.

The gifts were part of a Secret Santa-type program called Project CARE, which matches city employees with senior citizens in need. The presents typically include things like blankets, sweaters and toiletries.

Most of the seniors in the program are low-income, live alone or don't have family nearby, said Department of Aging General Manager Laura Trejo. 

The mayor's Fund is accepting donations online.

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