LAWRENCEVILLE - No Easter bunny was in sight, but Easter baskets overflowing with candies, toys and other surprises stacked up as Gwinnettians dropped them off for charity at the National Guard Armory Tuesday.
Gwinnett Department of Family and Children Services event co-chair Bruce Hanson was bowled over by the community's giving spirit and said he's confident every child in DFCS will get a basket filled with treats.
"We've had over 1,300 baskets donated and we're not done yet," he said, smiling. "I am just amazed."
The goal is to collect 1,800 baskets for children who are living in the state's custody.
The Easter basket donation event, or Easter Eggstravaganza, has been celebrated each year for more than a decade and is one of three major annual events hosted by Gwinnett DFCS.
Hanson said he's seen people come in with one or two baskets and he's seen people come in with hundreds.
"We had church members from Mountain Park United Methodist Church come in five cars and donate 308 baskets a few hours ago," Hanson said.
Row after row of pastel colored, cellophane-wrapped baskets were set upon tables, chairs and on the floor while DFCS volunteers wrapped them in plastic trash bags.
Each basket was organized according to the sex and age group to which it would be given. When a DFCS case workers requested an order, the volunteers selected the appropriate baskets, wrote the child's name on the basket tag and separated it for easy pick-up.
"These baskets are for however the foster parent wants to surprise the kids for Easter," said Debra Barinowski, Gwinnett DFCS volunteer resource coordinator. "The children enjoy knowing that someone did something special for them and filled it full of goodies and the little ones think the Easter bunny hopped up with it."
Loganville resident Hope Glaze and her husband, Matthew, donated 10 teen baskets Tuesday on behalf of their local church. Teenage church members enjoyed shopping for candy, purses, footballs and baseball caps, she said. A Bible was also placed in each basket.
"The kids put it all together and it's a way for them to think about other kids and think about the type of things those kids don't have," Hope said.
DFCS will be collecting baskets from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Georgia Army National Guard Armory, located at 261 E. Crogan St.
If baskets are available for donation after that date, call Deborah Barinowski at 678-518-5758. Easter baskets for teenagers are especially needed.