Katie Yoder, This Easter season, Americans continue to face political upheaval and the pandemic. But there’s still reason for hope. While their actions may not make national headlines, Americans across the country are performing everyday acts of kindness for their neighbor. And, in doing so, they share a piece of the Easter story – a story of God’s unconditional love.
Here are five heartwarming stories of people’s generosity surrounding the holiday, as reported by local media.
Montana Couple Gifts Easter Baskets to Families in Need
Shawna Morales and her husband Wes began “Operation Easter” several years ago as a way to give back to their community, KTVQ reported on March 28.
“Other holidays have a lot of stuff that goes out to the community, but Easter was kind of forgotten,” Shawna said. “So we figured it’s a great time for us to be able to give back and engage with the children that need help.”
To do this, they gather and donate Easter baskets to families in need, including those located at women’s and family shelters. While they started out with “just a handful of baskets,” KTVQ reported, today they have “grown into dozens of volunteers and thousands of baskets.”
With the help of friends, their community, and local businesses, they have already gathered an estimated 1,500 baskets this year – with a goal to reach 3,000. The basket goodies include candy, gift cards, small toys, and Peeps.
“It’s overwhelming really for us as a family,” Shawna stressed. “I think it teaches my kids to be humble and to love to give back, just encapsulates really the true meaning of giving and opening your heart to other people.”
Texas Parents Organize Easter Bunny Visits in Memory of Daughter
When Rose Garcia-Winsman and David Winsman lost their baby girl last year, they decided to create a non-profit in her name: Penny’s Pals. Through it, this Easter, they’re holding a fundraiser so that they can bring the Easter bunny to “medically fragile/complex” children.
“Last Easter was our only Easter with our daughter Penny,” the couple wrote in a Facebook post. “We were able to hire a bunny to come visit Penny through the window! The bunny danced silly to music and Penny got photos with the bunny in her Easter outfit. We are so grateful for the memories. Best Easter Ever!”
In 2019, when Rose was 31 weeks pregnant with Penny, she got in a car crash, News 4 San Antonio reported on March 26. After going to the hospital, she underwent an emergency C-section.
Doctors predicted that baby Penelope Rose, who suffered from severe brain damage, had less than six months to live. She made it past eight.
“We cherished every moment and created a beautiful life full of love and happy experiences for Penny,” her parents wrote on their website. “She knew who Momma and Dada were! … The BEST day ever was when she learned how to SMILE! It was so beautiful.”
Rhode Island Teenager Assembles Easter Baskets for Kids
James Ryan began “Operation Jack Rabbit” when he was just four years old, Channel 7 Eyewitness News reported on March 25. That first year, he donated eight Easter pails with little gifts for children in need.
“It was me and my mom and I basically asked her if we could help out the Easter Bunny, and she said ‘yes,’ and that year we started off,” Jack remembered. “Christmas was sort of already covered so we thought of another big holiday that kids might not get something on and we kind of landed on Easter.”
This year, with the help of family and friends, the 16-year-old will be giving away close to 1,000 pails – complete with stuffed animals, colored eggs, crayons, books, and candy.
West Virginia Woman Gathers Flowers for the Elderly
Laura Foulks is collecting donations this Easter so that she can deliver fresh flowers to local nursing homes, hospice patients, and the elderly, a local news outlet, My Buckhannon, reported on March 29.
She cited her grandmother as her inspiration.
“I started thinking about my grandmother,” Laura said. “She had passed away and prior to that, we had her in a nursing home in Pennsylvania. I was thinking it would have been awful for her to not have family allowed to come in and visit and how sad that would have made her.”
That motivated her to do something for the elderly in her community.
“I began thinking, I ought to do something for folks around here in nursing homes,” she added. “I began calling around and got the okay to send them flowers. I asked my friends, and they pitched in money to help me do this last year.”
She wanted to brighten people’s day, especially with the pandemic.
“It has been an entire year and those in nursing homes still are not allowed to have visitors,” she stressed. This Easter, she is more determined than ever to bring a smile to their faces.
“Everybody tells me how happy this makes the seniors,” she urged. “I know it would have made my grandmother happier.”
South Carolina Business Owner Ensures Families in Need Can Celebrate Easter
Bargain Warehouse is donating Easter baskets for the second year in a row, WMBF News reported on March 26. The owner, Gary Bingham, organized the effort after the pandemic began, to ensure families in need could still celebrate the holiday.
Last year, his team donated an estimated 8,000 baskets filled with everything from stuffed animals to candy. This year, they’re aiming for 20,000.
“It’s something we’re trying to do because we know this situation was caused by something not of ourselves, that people are out of work not because they chose [to be] but because of the pandemic or whatever happened with their job,” Gary said. “There’s no shame to it. We’re doing it out of love.”