SEBRING — Members of the Aktion Club of Highlands County worked almost every day in December to prepare for their Christmas Adopt-A-Child Project. This year the club helped 160 needy children in Highlands County during the holiday season.

The club raised money in Lakeshore Mall in Sebring by wrapping presents all during December. The money was used to buy toys, bikes, clothes and food for the families. There were 59 families helped this year from the Early Steps Program, Family Safehouse, Special STARS and Grandparents As Parents Program. Each child received three to four presents and the family got a box full of non-perishable food items.

"The one child who just got home from the hospital, touched my heart the most," said Aktion Club member Michael Sweet who played Santa Claus as the club dropped off presents. "We really made a difference in a lot of lives this Christmas."

Some families were more excited to see the box of food because they were worried about how they would survive until the end of the month.

The club also managed to stop to see some of their fellow club members who were elderly or sick and even one who was celebrating her birthday. The officers of the club travel from northern Avon Park to Venus with Santa Claus on Dec. 22 to all the homes of the children in the Early Steps Program to personally deliver their presents.

Florida Hospital Heartland Medical Center, Leisure Acres Mobile Home Community, Lampe & Kiefer Hearing Aid Center and various family members and friends assisted with making this project successful. The hospital staff adopted several of the kids. Leisure Acres brought in food donations. Lampe & Kiefer set up a collection box and adopted an entire family of five kids.

The Aktion Club hosted a wrapping party to wrap the gifts on Dec. 20 to prepare to deliver the following three days to the families. After wrapping, the club also hosted its annual Christmas Party where members exchanged gifts and had a pizza party.

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