Donations sought for Easter basketsPublished 5:47pm Friday, February 24, 2012
A basket with colorful eggs placed upon Easter grass, candy and a trinket or two can make a child’s eyes sparkle with delight.
After watching their own daughter’s happiness she felt on opening her Easter basket a few years ago, Jennifer Barber-
Ruchti and her husband Mike thought about those children who might not have this pleasant experience.
The couple took some Easter baskets to a homeless shelter that same year.
“Some of the parents have never themselves received an Easter basket, let alone been able to give one to their own child,” one of the workers at the shelter said.
“It is an extra, but sometimes the ‘extras’ are so important to a child’s spirit,” Barber-Ruchti added. They wished they could do even more, so she went to the Volunteer Center of Southwest Michigan, “where one of their goals is to connect people with opportunities to serve,” she said.
“Jen presented her dream to us and we immediately realized how we could come alongside this family to help her make this project a reality,” said Deb Panozzo, the center’s adult and family coordinator. Since the inception of the project, the couple has since had a son, Donevin, and the family has “owned the Easter Basket Project,” she added, with Barber-Ruchti being the volunteer leader.
The numbers rose from 30 to 300 children receiving a basket.
This will be the fourth year the children in Berrien County who are in foster care, the juvenile center and shelters serving the homeless and victims of domestic violence will find their Easter a little brighter.
Key Club students from St. Joseph High School, as well as other area Key Clubs from local high schools, will once again serve this year by helping to pack more than 400 Easter baskets.
“The biggest need this year is donations of new and empty Easter baskets, wrapped candy, and small, age-appropriate toys and trinkets,” Panozzo said.
The baskets will go to all ages from babies to age 17, with teenagers being the hardest to find appropriate items to go into the baskets.
Items being collected along with monetary gifts, baskets, wrapped candy and Easter grass could include lip gloss, hair brush and decorations, breakfast bars, stickers, pens, nail polish, socks and decks of cards.
Every effort should be made to have donations turned in by March 16. Donation drop-off sites include Stevensville Martin’s Super Market, St. Joseph Martin’s Super Market, Lincoln Elementary School in St. Joseph, Broadstreet Cafe in St. Joseph, the Volunteer Center office in St. Joseph and the Volunteer Center office in Niles.
“I realize that this is a tough economy and I’ve learned that there are many voices that need help. But if you are able to give and this project means something to you, we ask that you help us to make it a success again this year,” Barker-Ruchti said.
“We want lots of smiling faces Easter morning.”
Distribution will be made by the Department of Human Services.
For more information go to www.volunteerswmi.org.