PASSAIC, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A local woman is gearing up for Easter weekend by making dozens of gift baskets for children in her community.
As CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon reported Wednesday, this year will be her biggest giveaway yet.
Lunell Whitmire showed off the goodies she’s packing in her baskets. The 76-year-old mother of six has been handing them out to kids in her church community on the Saturday before Easter for the past 20 years.
“I wanted to do something for the kids, just to see the kids smile,” Whitmire said.
A former school food services worker, Whitmire said her deepest joy comes the moment the kids open up the baskets.
“They open the egg and said, ‘Oh, I got a dollar in this one,’ and then they grab another, ‘There’s a dollar in this one!’ And then they get another one!” Whitmire said.
The process to make these incredible baskets starts a few weeks before Easter. Whitmire heads to the store and uses her own money, along with donations from members of her church, to purchase the items for the baskets.
“I get up early in the morning … then I come and sit in this chair and I start,” she said.
Every year Whitmire makes about 30 of baskets for children within her church community. But this year, due to COVID-19, she more than doubled the number of baskets she usually makes.
She has expanded, now not only giving baskets to children from her church, but also to kids in the neighborhood.
Because her church is still closed, Whitmire will hand out to baskets in front of her home on Saturday.
“They have been in the house for so long, over a year, and they have a hard time learning and I just want to see a smile on their faces,” she said.
To her family, Whitmire’s generosity is inspiring.
“Look, 70 baskets. It’s unbelievable,” son George Whitmire said. “I want her to be recognized and get her flowers while she’s still here. She is a wonderful mother.”
It’s generosity that appears to have no end.
“I haven’t got my stimulus check. If I had my stimulus check I would have more baskets,” Lunell Whitmire said.
Still, she’s making a few extra, just to ensure no child that comes for a basket is turned away empty handed.
CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon contributed to this report