Who Is My Neighbor? (Easter Smiles)

If I were to ask a random group of people what population their hearts broke for the most, the most common answer would be ‘children.’  Children are so vulnerable and are at the mercy of those caring for them.  Therefore, when we see opportunities to bring joy to a child in need, we respond with generosity and enthusiasm.

A small group that came together when Calvary did a study on ‘The 40 Days of Community’ several years ago selected a community project which would impact children at the most important season of the Christian life:  Easter.  ‘Easter Smiles’ was the brainstorm of Dee Frautschi and Al Bedell, Cathy and Dennis Wentworth, Jane and Eldon Haab, Betty and Paul Duzan, and Bev and Jim Hornickel.  When these people ended up together in a group studying what it meant to be in community, what emerged is a ministry that has been putting together Easter baskets for children for 12 years!

The people in this group recognized that at Thanksgiving and Christmas, the needs of children and their families who are struggling financially are addressed in many ways.  However, what happens the rest of the year?  When other children are talking about Easter baskets at school, are there some who are feeling left out?  

While obviously not equating the celebration of the resurrection with baskets of goodies, our response to the good news of Jesus Christ needs to be to reach out to those who are the most vulnerable.  When this group delivers beautifully wrapped Easter baskets to Neville House, the Baby Fold, Home Sweet Home Ministries, and the Crisis Nursery, the love of Jesus is shared in a way that children can understand and appreciate.  

This group also serves meals regularly at Safe Harbor, a homeless shelter run by the Salvation Army.  One year, upon seeing Easter baskets that the group brought for children, a man came up asked if he could have a basket to take to his little girl.  Absolutely!  Helping a father bring a smile to his daughter’s face is one of the reasons this ministry exists.

A bonus to this ministry is the joy it gives those who donate the baskets.  “I used to do baskets for my children and now they’re all gone.  I miss that.”  There are children at Calvary who enjoy putting together baskets for other children.  What a great way to learn what it means to be a disciple!  Families enjoy coming together to decide what they’ll put in the baskets, shop for the items, and then wrap them all up.  Anytime a family gets together to do something for others, everyone wins and I believe it puts a smile on the face of our God.

Last year, Calvary made up around 100 Easter Baskets.  This year’s goal is 120 baskets.  How does this work?  There is a tree at the first Atrium Kiosk decorated with plastic eggs.  Inside those eggs are instructions on what to put in the basket.  Having teachers in this group of organizers brought an awareness that by this time in the year, children’s school supplies are running out, so that is always on the list.

Jesus lives!  Let’s find ways to share that joy with others.

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Tomorrow on the Daily Connection: A Light to My Path

About the Author
Debbie Reese is the Co-Directing Pastor of Calvary UMC