Courtesy photo Santa and Aktion Club members Bill Sobczak, Eva Monk, Emily Lavely and Shawn Squires unload their sleigh for an Avon Park family.
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published: Friday, December 28, 2012
Highlands Aktion Club helps Santa make deliveries
Special to the News-Sun
Santa Claus loaded up his sleigh full of presents early on Dec. 22 to deliver to 36 needy children in Highlands County.
The Aktion Club of Highlands County, which consists of people with disabilities, assisted Santa by raising more than $500 in a gift wrapping store in Lakeshore Mall during December and collecting donations to help buy toys, clothes and food for 11 families in Sebring and Avon Park.
This was the fifth year for the club to take on this project. Last year, club members adopted 22 children but the need increased this year.
The local club adopts children, ages birth to 3 years old, served in the Gulf Central Early Steps Program who have disabilities. They also purchased gifts for their siblings.
Lakeshore Mall donated space for the club to wrap gifts from Dec. 2-16. Some local residents took names off the angel tree to help buy gifts for the kids.
In addition to the money raised at the mall, Germaine Surveying, Lampe & Kiefer Hearing Aid Center and various anonymous donors made contributions to help purchase gifts for the kids.
One donor in particular was Sebring resident Bill Sobczak, who is a member of the Aktion Club. He refurbishes bicycles and overheard a phone conversation with one family who only wanted to get their five children bikes for Christmas. Sobczak had lined up his best bikes and purchased two more bikes with his own money that he makes at his job bagging groceries at Publix.
"I know what it is like growing up poor and wanting a bike for Christmas. I just had to help these kids," Sobczak said.
Sobczak and Aktion Club advisor Cindy Marshall loaded up the bikes and delivered them early on Dec. 19 so the family had time to hide them for Christmas.
Sobczak also made several donations of new and slightly used toys and clothes that he purchased throughout the year at various sales.
Sobczak was one of the elves who made the trip with Santa to deliver the gifts to all the children on Dec. 22. Eva Monk, Shawn Squires and Emily Lavely were the others who helped to make deliveries.
"It is good to see that all these families really need these presents," Sobczak said.
"They really are poor. Some don't even have a tree. Some trees only had one string of lights."
"It was a good feeling to help these families," Aktion Club president Ralph Meyers said as he played Santa Claus. "Some kids were happy to see Santa and some were scared."
The club wrapped more than 300 presents on Dec. 20 for these families and put together food baskets that also included a turkey. Sobczak donated a ham for one family. The presents were bagged for each family and delivered in time for Christmas. There were also two other small bikes and two tricycles included in the delivery on Dec. 20.
"It felt good to make these children smile at Christmas time. That's what it is all about," Sobczak said.
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