In 2017, Joy Danley wanted to collect 1,000 Easter baskets for homeless children in the South County.
She ended up collecting more than 1,500 — thanks to hundreds of county residents who donated in the last weeks of the drive to push her well past her goal.
Now the Arroyo Grande woman is back at it. Because of her success last year, she wants to hit that 1,500 number again, and she’s looking for those same residents to step up once again to meet it.
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“Last year, I was overwhelmed with the kindness and generosity of the people who helped reach our goal,” she said. “Our community support has been amazing. ... I feel blessed to live in a community where people continue to reach out and help others in need.”
The majority of the baskets go to students in the Lucia Mar Unified School District, while excess baskets will go to students in the San Luis Coastal Unified School District.
To help them, Danley is asking for people to make or buy Easter baskets for students in those age groups and fill them with both fun and practical items.
Danley’s baskets are filled with school supplies, toys, books, toiletries, healthy snacks, grocery store gift cards, candy and, most importantly to her, a note of encouragement.
“The students who received the baskets last year were so excited to receive a basket that was made special for them,” she said. “One high school girl, who was living in her car, cried because it was her birthday and she had never received an Easter basket before.”
So far, Danley said she has only assembled about 150 baskets — but with her deadline still several weeks away, she said there is plenty of time for people to donate goods or baskets.
The deadline to donate a basket or goods to Baskets of Joy is March 23.
One way to help will be March 18, when Danley will host a “mass assembly line” at Hope Church in Arroyo Grande. She said people are welcome to donate items that day, and are encouraged to stay to help put the baskets together. That will take place at 12:30 p.m.
Baskets can also be dropped off at Kennedy Club Fitness in Arroyo Grande anytime until March 23, and monetary donations to buy items for the baskets can be made on her GoFundMe page, “Easter Baskets for Homeless Kids.” To date, she has raised $830 of her $5,000 goal.
“The children’s excitement, smiles and tears of joy are what inspires me to continue this project every year,” she said. “I know we are making a difference in each one of these children’s lives.”
How to help
Drop off baskets or goods at Kennedy Club Fitness at 1299 James Way, Arroyo Grande. You can also donate money online at https://www.gofundme.com/t9y2pg-easter-baskets-for-homeless-kids. For more information, or to contact Joy Danley, visit her website, joybasketsoflove.org.