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Lake County Fire Rescue brings goodwill and holiday cheer to 28 underprivileged children

RELEASE DATE: December 22, 2006

UMATILLA — The color is right, but the mode of transportation is somewhat unusual for Kris Kringle.

Lt. Michell Bass
Lake County Fire Rescue Lt. Michell Bass wraps one of the many gifts she collected for underprivileged children.
On Friday, Dec. 22, Santa Claus rode to Lake Square Mall aboard a red fire engine. The pre-Christmas visit was a special one for Saint Nick as he assisted the Lake County Department of Public Safety, Fire Rescue Division, with giving a special Christmas to 28 underprivileged children.

Each year Lt. Michell Bass spends her holidays giving to others. When she joined the fire department more than 20 years ago she brought along her generous holiday spirit.

“I’ve done this my whole life,” she said. “Even as a kid, my sister and I did this. As kids, we would go to orphanages and give away one of our toys from underneath the tree.”

On her off time the past two weeks, Bass visited other County fire stations and collected gifts fellow firefighters purchased with their own money.

“We’ve got at least three or four pickup loads,” Bass said as she looked around Fire Station 19 which is stacked with Christmas gifts. “Our firefighters are outrageous.”

The eight families and 28 children Bass identified were treated to a free breakfast Friday morning courtesy of Garfield’s restaurant. On Saturday, firefighters will deliver the toys to the families that live in the communities of Fruitland Park, Lake Jem, Paisley and Okahumpka.

“Every family has a different story,” Bass said. “Some gentlemen just had surgery and another lady was just diagnosed with cancer. They’re all sad stories.”

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klafollette@lakecountyfl.gov

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