SOLVAY — Patrons visiting the food pantry at St. Cecilia’s Parish were pleasantly surprised April 16 when, along with provisions for an Easter meal, they received a festively decorated Easter basket for their children. The baskets were donated, designed and assembled by Jade Coyne, 8, who attends St. Cecilia’s with her family.
Jade, a student at Solvay Elementary School, wanted to make Easter a little brighter for children who might not receive an Easter basket this year.
A few months ago, Jade said, she felt a little bored. After pondering how she could volunteer somewhere, she decided to give her time and resources to St. Cecilia’s food pantry. She came up with a plan to create Easter baskets for the children who are helped by the pantry.
“It took me a while to think it through,” recalled Jade. “I like the fact that the Easter bunny gives us baskets — it’s as important as Christmas and I feel that those kids should have them, too.”
Jade started to work on the project in February during her school vacation. She contacted the food pantry to inquire how many children would need baskets. She was informed that baskets for 30 girls, 30 boys and 19 toddlers would be sufficient.
Jade had saved her birthday and Christmas gift money, and with the help of her mother Colleen, carefully budgeted her money to purchase the items for the baskets. The mother and daughter team made use of coupons and shopped the sales at area retail stores to purchase the materials. They bought crayons, coloring/activity books, Play-Doh, card games, stuffed rabbits, jump ropes, PEZ candy and toothbrushes.
When Jade set about designing the basket, she drew a picture of a bunny. She then purchased large pastel-colored sand pails, and with the help of her two brothers and her grandmother, decorated each pail with an Easter bunny motif. After filling the baskets, she wrapped festive cellophane around each one and tied it with a ribbon. The project was completed at the end of March.
Jade’s mother said that at times her daughter got bored with the endeavor but she urged her to completion.
“I think that if I didn’t have the encouragement from my mom, I don’t think I could have done it,” remarked Jade.
The need to help others is a common thread that runs throughout the Coyne family. Colleen frequently donates items to those in need and Jade’s 17-year-old brother, Justin, a Eucharistic Minister at St. Cecilia’s, used his birthday and Christmas gift money last holiday season to purchase turkeys for 12 to 15 families who use the food pantry.
Jade said she wants to repeat the project next year. “I’m pretty proud of the hard work I did and that I finally got them [baskets] done,” she commented. “I feel good that the kids will be getting the baskets.”
Jade is a truly remarkable young girl who enjoys school. “She does well in school, but she especially enjoys socializing,” added her mother.
In her spare time, Jade enjoys bicycling and playing board games, such as Monopoly and Operation, with her family.
Jade is already thinking about how she will help out at the food pantry at Christmastime. “I’m thinking about making a Christmas tree out of paper mache,” she said. “I’ll leave an opening at the top and fill the tree with gifts, like a stuffed Rudolph.”