Two young adults from Newtown have done what they can to make Easter a little nicer this year for 30 strangers.
The friends, Capri Agresta and Rachel D’Ausilio, decided last month that they wanted to put together Easter baskets “to help people who might not have the opportunities we have, so that they could have a nice Easter,” Capri said Tuesday afternoon.
She and Rachel, along with Rachel’s mother Lisa, went to Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital in New Haven and Harmony House in Danbury on April 15. The girls had the opportunity to deliver 14 baskets to the children’s hospital and another nine to the temporary shelter a few hours before they spoke with The Newtown Bee.
Rachel said the idea for the baskets happened when she and her mother were talking about doing something for Easter, for the members of their church who are not able to leave their homes.
“My mom and I were talking about doing something for them, around Easter time,” she said. “I asked Capri if she’d like to help us.”
The girls began pooling their funds, and also asked friends if they would donate items to go into the baskets. That was when the scope of the offerings expanded.
“Eventually we found more baskets and things, so we decided to branch out and go to the hospital and the homeless shelter,” said Rachel.
The other seven will go to elderly, shut-in members of the Brookfield church attended by the Agresta family.
Rachel and Capri spent a few hours, over a few nights, putting the baskets together.
“We knew the genders of most of the children who would be getting the baskets, so we made them gender friendly,” said Capri.
“Every basket had a little toy, like a car or a little tiny animal,” said Rachel. “Every basket also had a little tiny Easter egg with Silly Bands in it, and then they would each have a big stuffed animal, a doll for girls or an Easter bunny or bear for the boys.”
Baskets also included notepads and crayons or pencils, and a small pouch of fruit snacks. The girls also created handmade Easter cards to include in each basket.
Lisa Agresta drove Rachel and Capri to deliver Tuesday’s baskets. The group went to New Haven first, and members of the hospital’s Child Life Department program were ready for them.
“They had one woman standing by the road, waiting for us, in the rain, to show us where to go,” said Rachel. “Two others were waiting with a cart, so that they could take the baskets.
“When we pulled up, they were all smiling,” she continued. “When we showed them the baskets, they were still smiling, and they told us it was really great.”
The girls were not allowed to meet the patients and deliver the baskets themselves, due to HEPA concerns, but the hospital staff promised that the baskets would be delivered.
“All the people at the hospital were grateful. They were smiling, and they kept telling us how happy they were,” said Capri.
Next it was off to Danbury, to Harmony House, which provides temporary housing for pregnant women and women with children.
Michelle Vivas, the shelter’s program director, was waiting for them.
“It’s definitely” good, she said, when people reach out to help those who are at the shelter. “Sometimes the moms, they’re not able to afford to give their kids these things,” said Ms Vivas. “The community has been great during the holidays.”
Thanks to the donations from Rachel and Capri, along with another local group of students, said Ms Vivas, every child currently staying at Harmony House will receive an Easter basket this year.
“We have them in a room, and we’re letting the moms decide when they want to give them to their children, now or closer to the holiday,” she said of the donated baskets.
Two children had been given their baskets as of April 16, according to Ms Vivas. One mother had apparently decided to give her son his basket right away.
“One of the kids came down with his basket and wished us a Happy Easter,” said Capri.