Holiday help for those helping others

By Sarah Panko, Reporter
Last Updated: Saturday, December 02, 2017

A homeless center in Lake County is getting some extra help for the holidays.  

  • Thrist store filling gift bags for the holidays
  • To donate: Store at 1541 E Main Street or call 352-315-0600
  • Spectrum News 13 holidays

Mark Stapleton is the owner of 441 Thrift Store and U-haul in Leesburg. 

He's trying to fill 200 gift bags for The Open Door, a homeless drop-in center, through a Christmas drive at his store. 

"Most of us are going to be sitting around, we're going to be with our family, friends ob Christmas we're going to be having fun opening presents. The homeless people are going to be in their makeshift shelter in their tent that's an everyday occurrence to them it's not going to be any special day to them," said Stapleton. 

The Open Door opened on Citrus Avenue in Eustis in 2015 and is a program of LifeStream. The drop-in center offers the homeless a place to shower, wash their clothes, access to computers and lockers, and even haircuts. 

"We’ve served 1,000 plus people, we got 800 active on the books right now, we see 20 to 25 people a day," said Karen LeHeup-Smith who's on the advisory committee for The Open Door. 

Stapleton is filling the bags with new items like socks and gift cards to fast food restaurants. 

He's hoping to have the bags filled by December 15.

You can drop off items at Stapleton's store at 1541 E Main Street in Leesburg or you can call the store to donate at 352-315-0600.