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Janesville volunteers work to ensure a 'hoppy' Easter for all kids

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Shelly Birkelo
March 27, 2013

— Nearly 50 volunteers have packed more than 425 Easter baskets for children of low-income families in the Janesville area.

The process started Monday in the basement of ECHO. An assembly line of volunteers lined Easter baskets with multi-colored plastic grass and filled bags with candy and toys.

The baskets were then wheeled across the hall, where each bag was sealed with a homemade colorful ribbon and a “Hoppy Easter” tag made by Marge Sell of the ECHO staff before being stacked on shelves for distribution to ECHO clients through Thursday.

Some of the baskets will be distributed to families at House of Mercy, YWCA's Alternative to Violence Program and county Child Protective Services, said Fran Brien, ECHO's volunteer coordinator.

Tyler Wagner, a 19-year-old UW-Madison student on spring break, was among volunteers who helped pack baskets for children.

“It's an opportunity to give back that Easter spirit to the community and have fun,” Wagner said.

He was joined by Alyssa Rodriguez, 12, Janesville, and a half-dozen other Rock County Youth2Youth members.

“There's kids that need Easter more than I do, and ECHO needs the help,” Rodriguez said as she walked around the table filling an Easter basket with goodies.

Before Monday, more than 120 Easter baskets were donated to ECHO by retired teachers, 4-H clubs, churches and members of the community.

The goal was to have 550 Easter baskets to give away, Brien said.

“We're packing until we can't pack anymore,” she said.

The number of donations and volunteers didn't surprise Brien or Carol Hunter, Janesville, who helped start the Easter basket program at ECHO almost 20 years ago.

“When I think of the kids who don't have anything; why not fulfill those needs and make their day? Their parents can't afford this, and they're always so appreciative,” Hunter said.

Brien agreed: “With a community so plentiful, this is the least we can do for those in tough situations and to brighten their day.”



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