Easter is not typically celebrated with the same kind of grandeur as Christmas, or Halloween. A Manatee County resident is looking to change that. For the last nine years, Lee Hardy has become known around her city of Palmetto, Florida as the “Easter Lady” for making and distributing Easter baskets to children who otherwise wouldn’t be able to celebrate Easter.
“Everybody do [sic] everything for Christmas, everybody do [sic] everything for New Year’s and Thanksgiving, but nobody do [sic] nothing big for Easter. So, we decided to start doing something for Easter, especially for needy kids and kids with families who are incarcerated.”
Hardy says she felt it was her chore to make Easter as special as other holidays are, so nine years ago, she began to make Easter baskets for families in need around her neighborhood. What started as a project built out of love for the holiday, as well as the people in her community, has turned into a passion that begins months before Easter.
So far this year, Hardy has put together around 500 baskets, but says there will be around 700 all together when she’s finally ready to start giving them away. Her ultimate goal, though, is to make 1,000 Easter baskets. “I will have about 700 in here but 1,000 is my goal,” she said. “One year I’m going to do that 1,000.”
Hardy’s long-time friend, Hazel Barnes, who has known the Easter Lady for 50 years, can’t wait for Lee to get to that goal of 1,000 Easter baskets.
“When she makes 1,000 I’m going to be freaking out. I don’t know where she’s going to put them but she’s going to make 1,000 baskets. They call her the Easter basket lady.”
While Lee gets some donations such as those from the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office who generously donate things like toys and stickers, most of the Easter loot comes straight out of her own pocket. This year, the lucky kids will be treated to Easter coloring books, crayons, reading books, and of course, Easter candy.
Some of the Easter baskets will be given away at Faith Community Church, where Hardy is a parishioner, but the majority of them will be saved for the kids in her community, who she’ll invite into her home on Good Friday to pick out their very own basket.
It takes a long time to make the baskets, but seeing the children smile as they pick out their favorite brightly colored Easter basket makes it all worthwhile for Lee Hardy. “I just think of joy and love.”
[Image Credits: USA Today]