Easter baskets for those in need

Whidbey kids may be receiving an early visit this year from the Easter Bunny — or perhaps, the Easter Dinosaur.

A Freeland resident, her family and friends are planning to deliver Easter baskets all across Whidbey Island, all while dressed in costume.

Mandie Starets-Foote came up with the idea when talking with her 10-year-old daughter, Bella.

“My daughter asked me the other day how kids are going to get Easter baskets if their parents aren’t working,” Starets-Foote said.

Though also recently out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic, Mandie Starets-Foote said she thought it would be a good opportunity to pursue something that would help families in need. She acknowledged that many Easter egg hunts and other events for kids are canceled for this year.

“When things like this happen, being at home with my kids and not working and not knowing where our bills are going to come from, it’s really good to focus outside of ourselves,” Starets-Foote said.

She began raising funds for the Easter baskets through Facebook and GoFundMe, and has raised $500 as of Thursday afternoon. This will provide for about 50 baskets, but Starets-Foote would like to make many more.

The former nurse has been preparing the baskets in a sterile environment with the help of her daughter.

“My living room has basically turned into an Easter basket-making craft room,” Starets-Foote said with a laugh.

She has been driving up to Oak Harbor regularly to purchase brand-new simple, fun toys and pre-wrapped candy for the baskets, minimizing hand-to-hand contact.

And for older kids, she has been packing Easter baskets with soaps and gift cards.

She and her costumed helpers are planning to deliver the baskets April 8-10, from Oak Harbor to Clinton.

Starets-Foote is still looking for monetary donations to fund more baskets, although new, clean and unwrapped toys are also acceptable.

She encourages people to sign up to receive baskets by emailing mandiebeth2013@gmail.com or calling 808-769-8195.

Starets-Foote said she also asks for people to provide the age, gender and interests of the kids, so she can more accurately compile a basket for them.

“I just thought it would be a really great way to cheer people up and make things a little less harder during these times,” Starets-Foote said.

“Every kid deserves an Easter.”

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