Leesburg family loses belongings in fire, including Christmas gifts

Community collects gift donations

LEESBURG, Fla. – A local thrift shop owner has started a toy drive to help out a family of five who lost everything in a house fire over the weekend. 

Mark Stapleton said Alisha Hill and her four kids received help from the Red Cross but lost their Christmas gifts.

"We are a community. Communities have to go back to being communities where neighbors help neighbors," Stapleton said.

Following the fire, word quickly spread throughout the Lake County community and people showed up with donations on Christmas Eve.

"Being a fireman in New Jersey, I've seen a lot of devastation and this is a very tough time in the year," John Kardel said.

Kardel drove from The Villages to donate to the family. 

Stapleton said he plans on taking all the donations to the Hill family by Monday night so that the children can wake up to presents on Christmas morning. 

"The younger ones, they look forward to Christmas all year long and look forward to Santa Claus," he said. 

Stapleton will be closed on Christmas Day but is hoping others can still donate after the holiday. 

If you wish to help the Hill family, you can drop off donations at 441 Thrift Store at 1541 U.S. Highway 441 in Leesburg on Wednesday starting at 9 a.m.

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