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Strangers help Edmonton families in need celebrate Easter

Strangers help Edmonton families in need celebrate Easter
WATCH ABOVE: A kind gesture from an Edmonton family meant to help those in need this Easter has inspired dozens of others to pitch in too. Sarah Ryan has the story on how they're making sure everyone can celebrate the holiday.

A random act of generosity by one Edmonton family just ahead of Easter has inspired dozens of other strangers to hop on board and play the Easter bunny for those in need.

Sherry Cassidy-Oleksyn spoke to her kids about doing their part to help families struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We thought that since we had to cancel a spring trip, we would use that money and put together maybe 10 or 15 Easter egg baskets for families that might not be able to afford it this year, just with the job loss,” she said.

READ MORE: Slave Lake deems Easter Bunny an essential worker during COVID-19 pandemic

From there, they decided to share the idea, hoping others might be able to join in the cause.

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“We reached out to our family and friends on Facebook to see if they would like to contribute and it exploded from there,” she explained.

READ MORE: Generous Edmontonians offering free grocery delivery during COVID-19 pandemic

Together, the volunteers were able to prepare dozens of baskets for multiple families who asked Cassidy-Oleksyn for help through a Facebook post.

But what Cassidy-Oleksyn didn’t expect was the number of strangers wanting to pitch in from home.

“With every request that came in for a basket, we also had people that don’t know us, but they reached out and wanted to e-transfer.”

She says the donations to date are up over $2,000. It’s allowed the team to make 250 Easter baskets.

“Every basket has a chocolate bunny, an Easter craft, a toy, bubbles, chalk,” she said.

The chocolate bunnies were donated by Empower Real Estate and the toys came from Joe’s Construction Cleaning Services.

Goodfellows Pub opened its doors as an assembly space.

“Of course we want to help as much as we can and this is for a really, really good cause,” owner Faysal Siffledeen said.

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“A lot of kids and families are going to be happy.”

Putting on a cheery Easter while social-distancing
Putting on a cheery Easter while social-distancing

The team also decided to put together 40 Easter dinner hampers for families struggling with grocery bills.

“It’ll either have a small turkey, chicken or ham, a couple boxes of stuffing, bag of potatoes, carrots, cranberry sauce or apple sauce, buns, a can of gravy and an Easter dessert,” Cassidy-Oleksyn said.

“For most of these families it’s the difference between having an Easter celebration or not.”

READ MORE: Edmonton dry cleaner to begin production of cloth face masks amid COVID-19 pandemic

She hasn’t put any qualifiers on her offer to help either, saying it’s not her place to judge.

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“Most of the nights when I’m going through my emails looking at the requests, I’m in tears. I’ve been in tough spots myself before, using the food bank,” she explained.

“Some of these stories are really heartbreaking.”

The care packages will be delivered on Saturday.

“Being that Easter bunny for so many families, it’s just a great feeling,” volunteer Nicole Bell said.

Until then – donations and requests for help can be emailed to yegeaster2020@hotmail.com.

“As long as the money’s there and the requests are there, we’re going to keep doing this,” Cassidy-Oleksyn said.

She noted any leftover money will be donated to the Can Man Dan Foundation.