Easter basket project in Chattanooga brings joy to children in need

An Easter basket project in Chattanooga started about eight or so years ago with one individual person, Joni Hotchkiss, who liked to bring joy by making Easter baskets for others in need.

Lots of baskets Karen Carden (left) and Leslie Fox are among the Easter basket volunteers.

Once she was making more baskets than she could handle by herself, it grew into a Lenten service project at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish Bible study group she attended, in conjunction with the Ladies of Charity in Chattanooga, where she volunteered. Another Bible study member and Ladies of Charity volunteer, Reta Rodgers, became the liaison between the two groups. They started out making about 75 Easter baskets, with the number growing each year. It again got bigger than the Bible study could manage, and a group of ladies at St. Stephen Parish got involved to help them.

The Easter baskets are wrapped in clear cellophane tied with ribbons and are filled with candy, toys, crayons, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, stuffed animals, and more.

Sadly, Ms. Rodgers passed away in 2019, but with the help of her friends Jeanie Geraci and Mrs. Hotchkiss, the project has continued in her memory and keeps growing. The past few years, the baskets have been assembled at St. Stephen Church. This year, more than 300 Easter baskets were made, bringing many smiles on Easter morning. This 300-plus number is great, but it has become too much for the leaders to handle. They will continue to assist, but they are looking for someone to take over leading this ministry.

Mrs. Hotchkiss and Mrs. Geraci are making the following announcement:

“We would like to thank all of those who helped make Easter baskets for the Reta Rodgers Easter Basket Program benefiting Ladies of Charity of Chattanooga. Without the help of all volunteers who gave their time, talent, and/or financial contributions, we would not have been able to make more than 300 baskets, many of which were donated. Others were sold at a very reasonable price either in the LOCC resale store or were bought by individuals who donated them to needy children. All profits benefited Ladies of Charity of Chattanooga. If someone or some organization would like to adopt this program next year, call LOCC on Rossville Boulevard at 423-624-3222, and they will get information from us. A very sincere and heartfelt thank-you.”

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