What started as a wish to help a family celebrate Easter has led to nearly 100 baskets filling Leah Mezick‘s home.
“It feels good, just to know you’re doing something good and helping out,” the 13-year-old said.
The Dunmore seventh grader and her mother, Tricia Zilaitis, talked about the many people who had lost their jobs because of the pandemic. Zilaitis posted her daughter’s Easter idea on Facebook, and donations started showing up at the family’s doorstep.
Strangers on the Lackawanna County COVID-19 Neighbor Assistance page on Facebook offered to order candy, games and bubbles through curbside pickup options.
The family also included necessities such as body wash, diapers and wipes in some baskets.
“People want to come together, 6 feet apart, to help,” Zilaitis said. “It’s just really good to bring hope back into the community.”
Zilaitis, a program manager at Allied Services, heard from many families who had never faced such financial hardship before. They hadn’t received unemployment benefits yet and could barely afford essentials. Easter baskets would likely have to wait.
“The stories are really sad,” Zilaitis said. “Some families were scared to ask for help.”
Zilaitis couldn’t turn anyone away.
This week, she delivered some of the baskets, while wearing gloves and a mask. Today, she’ll wear an Easter Bunny costume as she makes stops throughout the region.
“The Easter Bunny is working, even though there’s a quarantine going on,” she said. “I’m really happy to help.”
Sarah balances life as a reporter for The Times-Tribune and as the mom of two little girls. A graduate of Ithaca College, Sarah started covering education in 2006. She has received awards for her reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists, Pennsylvania Newsmedia Association, Inland Press Association and Pennsylvania Women’s Press Association. She lives in Clarks Summit with her husband, their daughters and their sweet pug, Sadie. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, 570-348-9133 or @HofiusHallTT.