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Woman Gives Thousands of Easter Baskets to Kids in Need: “We Want Them to Know They Are Loved!”

Dawn Godfrey was moved to start a program to give kids Easter treats—and love!

Easter of 1999, Dawn Godfrey couldn’t wait to give her little girl an Easter basket stuffed with lots of goodies and an adorable plush bunny. Dawn was certain Lauren would love it. But the 2-year-old picked up the stuffed bunny by the ears and tossed it aside.

Dawn’s heart sank. Granted, toddlers can be unpredictable. Still, her daughter’s disinterest got Dawn thinking about all the kids out there who would have loved to get an Easter basket of goodies and didn’t. That thought stayed with her and she decided: Next year, I am going to give kids in need Easter baskets of treats!

Filling baskets to touch hearts

The following week, Dawn, who lives in the Cincinnati, Ohio, suburb of Maineville, hit the stores, and took advantage of the holiday clearance sales. She cleared out baskets, plastic eggs and toys, spending about $250 for about $2,500 worth of merchandise that she packed away.

Then as Easter 2000 approached, Dawn started researching places in her area that serve children in need, like group homes for kids in foster care. She then filled baskets with her stashed bounty — 120 of them — and delivered them to the various facilities.

Dawn fondly remembers one teenage girl, who excitedly ripped open the basket’s wrapping, pulled out the bunny and cuddled the toy for comfort.

Teenage girl with her Easter basket
Even teens love the cuddly plushies

How sweet, Dawn thought, and in that moment, she knew she had to keep doing this. And the nonprofit, Baskets of L.I.F.E., which stands for Little Inspirations For Easter, was born.

From that year on, every spring, Dawn, an artist, has taken a hiatus from her business, Mural Mural on the Wall, and she and her volunteers deliver Easter baskets to children in need in the Cincinnati area, Dayton and northern Kentucky.

With the help of generous donations, each basket contains 3⁄4 pound of candy, including chocolate bunnies, of course. Other items are age-appropriate: stuffed animals for younger kids and things like headphones, basketballs and footballs for older boys and beauty items, like earrings and lotions, for teen girls.

Today, Baskets of L.I.F.E. delivers more than 1,000 Easter baskets a year.

Dawn surrounded by toys for the Easter baskets
“They are simple toys and treats, but they bring so much joy,” says Dawn.

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Baskets of L.I.F.E. are the highlight of their year

Dawn loves seeing the kids’ faces light up when they receive their baskets, but she is equally moved by their touching notes of gratitude.

Thank you for the gifts you gave us, one note said in a child’s handwriting. This has been a hard year, and you made it easier. Thank you for your kindness. We love you. Many kids say they shared the contents of their baskets with their siblings and friends who didn’t get anything for Easter.

Little boy with his Easter basket
Today, Dawn and her team of volunteers deliver more than 1,000 Easter baskets a year to children

“These kids who get hardly anything are still moved to share,” Dawn marvels to Woman’s World. Over the years, Dawn has branched out to include women’s shelters and schools. For several years, Baskets of L.I.F.E. has provided baskets for every single child—more than 500—in the Lockland School District, one of the most impoverished districts in the Cincinnati area where every student receives a free lunch.

Missy Schowalter, who teaches middle and high school in the Lockland district, says most of her students don’t get any presents for Christmas so the spring day when Baskets of L.I.F.E. delivers their Easter gifts becomes the best, most exciting day of the whole year for them.

Little girl holding Easter basket
Kids are amazed by the amazing Easter baskets

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“Receiving these amazing Easter baskets makes a huge difference in the children’s mindset,” Missy says. “It sends kids the message that there are kind people and that somebody is giving them fun stuff just because they want them to have a good day. That is surprising to a lot of the kids. It’s good for them to see that there are people who want them to feel loved and special.”

Dawn posing with donations for Easter baskets
People donate year-round for Easter baskets

Dawn has found great fulfillment in her nonprofit, which gets donations of supplies delivered to her home year-round. “My tank is filled every year after I give the Easter baskets to the children,” she says. “It feels so good to spread the love.”

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