Easter basket drive goal doubles this year
A local school is making sure more children have Easter baskets this year.
The call from Good Shepherd Lutheran School is for 3,000 gift baskets for kids in need, double the total collected last year.
Last year the goal was initially 500 baskets but, through the generosity of North Fort Myers and Cape Coral residents and business leaders, 1,500 were collected.
“It was incredible,” said organizer, mom and head of the PTA Kellie McIntosh.
“We so surpassed our goal, but this year, we need to double that. They always say to double your goal.”
She and other school parents and officials recruit local businesses throughout North Fort Myers and the Cape to collect baskets, basket stuffers or cash donations. With cash, they go to local stores and make their own baskets.
The school is at the corner of Hancock Bridge Parkway and Orange Grove, near the border of North Fort Myers and Cape Coral, a reason both communities donate.
Kids from the school pitch in. Two hard-working students stand in the car line every day wearing a full bunny suit to remind everyone of the drive. The two who are some of the drive’s biggest helpers are the Cape’s Austin Campbell and Alva’s Chris Johnson.
“It’s not every day you get a chance to help kids who need it,” said Campbell.
“It is a good thing to do, and it puts a smile on the kid’s faces,” added Johnson.
“These two boys put a lot into this and they never complain,” said McIntosh.
There is also an incentive within the school for the class that gets the most baskets. “The top class will get an ice cream party, and we also give out certificates.”
Last year, the winning class was Rosemarie Jones’ kindergarden class.
McIntosh reported that the drive started last week, and they already have 250 baskets.
Area agencies that serve children in need are contacted, and social workers pick up the baskets.
“We’re donating them to ACT — The Abused Counseling Treatment Center for Women and Children of Lee County, the Children’s Network of Lee County, local homeless shelters, hospitals and the Salvation Army.”
They are looking for pre-assembled baskets, but will also accept donations of wrapped candy. “We can’t have separate jelly beans, or candy like that, for safety reasons.”
Baskets and candy alone are fine for donations.
“I’ll also be going to dollar stores to get stuffed animals and anything else for the baskets we need,” she said.
McIntosh is involved in many ways with the school. Besides being president of the PTA, she now has three children enrolled there, 11-year-old Alexys, 7-year-old Abigail and 5-year-old Kayden. “My mom, Donna Jekel, is a teacher and the principal. She has taught here for over 20 years now.”
She also has her husband Daniel McIntosh have his business, Top Notch Carpet Care, serve as a donation site.
Basket donations will be accepted through March 26 at a variety of locations. “If someone can’t drop them off, I’ll pick them up,” said McIntosh.