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Lake County charity honors founder with annual holiday toy drive

Adopt-A-Child has been helping needy families for 32 years

UMATILLA, Fla. – Adopt-A-Child has been making Christmas memories in Lake County for 32 years.

The organization started with a small group of postal workers in Mount Dora helping a few families on their route.

Today, organization president Angela Tremain and Treasurer Jerry Sasser oversee the distribution of nearly 20,000 toys and gifts to needy kids in the area.

“All the letter carriers knew the families that were in need,” Sasser remembers. “We had families that we would buy for and it just grew and grew and grew.”

Sasser worked as a letter carrier alongside Jim Gray and Cecil Pentecost at the downtown Mount Dora Post Office. In the mid-80s, the three would ask coworkers to chip in and help buy gifts. Everyone agrees it was Gray’s idea and he was the force behind its success.

When Gray was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2001 there was no doubt the tradition would continue.

“Jim Gray left a legacy,” Tremain said. “And so we’re proud to be able to carry this on for him and his family.”

“It just takes one person to say, ‘I need a little bit of help to start something,’” Sasser said.

Adopt-A-Child serves the Golden Triangle of Lake County, including Mount Dora, Eustis and Tavares.

“This is home for us,” Tremain said. “So to be able to see people and know that they’re not going without, it touches the heart. Everybody is doing this as a labor of love.”

Qualifying families are found through schools, food banks and churches.

Wish list angels are placed on trees in small businesses and churches in the area.

“The people we’re helping now are struggling,” Sasser said. “They don’t make plans for this. They don’t. They can’t afford it.”

Jerry Sasser was nominated for the News 6 Getting Results Award by Cecil Pentecost.

“It wouldn’t have happened without Jerry,” Pentecost said. “If it wasn’t for him, it wouldn’t be here right now. It’s amazing that one person can make such a difference.”

This year, Adopt-A-Child will help 357 families and 950 children.

“We’ve just been very blessed. We’ve been blessed with the opportunity to serve these families that are just in need. That’s the awesome part of it. We get to share Christmas with them.” Sasser said. “It’s just giving it back, giving it back.”

Adopt-A-Child or Two Inc. is accepting donations for next year. You can reach them at:

  • P.O. Box 1311
  • Mount Dora, FL 32756

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