DAYTON — It’s been a tough year for much of the family of Sherrie Holloway of Grottoes.
“It’s just trying times for them,” Holloway, 60, said on Sunday.
One of her nieces was laid off 10 months ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other members of the family have faced numerous other tribulations, according to Holloway. She said she has 11 great-nieces and great-nephews who all live in Grottoes and are between 6 months and 11 years old.
Many other area families like Holloway’s have had a turbulent 12 months and many of the families also visited Dayton United Methodist over the weekend to pick up free Easter baskets for children.
Volunteers helped to prepare 1,100 Easter baskets, which included toys, candy and a small religious-themed item, according to one of the event’s organizers, Debbey Roadcap, 62, of Linville, and congregant of Dayton UMC since the mid-1980s. All the items are donated and it is a fully volunteer operation, Roadcap said.
Roadcap, with her daughter, Kim Guyer, 42, of Rockingham County, and Cynthia Hall, 60, of Waynesboro, organized this year’s event, which Roadcap started in 1998 with Guyer’s help. Dayton UMC began supporting the event in 2008, according to Roadcap.
“We used to do around 850 [baskets] and we would distribute the boxes to agencies, but with COVID, a lot of those agencies with employees are working from home so they have no way to distribute them,” Roadcap said. “So this year we did it by drive-thru distribution.”
There was an online form families facing economic challenges could use to sign up and then pick up reserved Easter baskets for family members on Saturday, Sunday and Monday at the church, according to Roadcap.
“Many people have had us put [the baskets] in the trunk so their kids don’t see them so they can take them out and give them out on Easter Sunday,” she said.
Roughly 600 people signed up to pick up baskets over the weekend and Monday, and another 100 baskets were given to agencies to give to clients, according to Roadcap.
She said between 6:30 and 7 p.m. Monday, the remaining roughly 200 Easter baskets not distributed over the weekend and not reserved for Monday would be given out at from Dayton UMC to families on a first-come, first-serve basis.
“It’s for people who really need it,” Roadcap said.
Volunteer Kay Monger, 71, of Harrisonburg, a friend of Roadcap, helped distribute baskets on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
“It’s just wonderful,” she said.
One grandmother who came to get baskets told Monger she is taking care of seven of her grandchildren because of the pandemic, according to Monger.
Monger said the volunteers also gave her another three Easter baskets for her other three grandchildren who do not have to move in with their grandmother.
Holloway said she and her family try their best for their youngest, but 11 is a large number and not mention age.
“We try to explain to them the true meaning of Easter, but you know, when you’re 4, it’s all about the Easter Bunny,” she said with a laugh.
Dayton Mayor Cary Jackson also greeted families and individuals picking up baskets dressed as the Easter Bunny.
“Taking little bit of time to dress up as the Easter Bunny to see the smiles on kid’s faces is why I did that,” Jackson said Sunday.
He called the organizers’ effort a “labor of love.”
Holloway said Roadcap, Guyer, Hall, the volunteers and Dayton UMC all deserve credit for helping children enjoy Easter as much as possible, even if there are other difficult factors that may be overshadowing their lives.
“This will sure brighten their holiday,” Holloway told Roadcap and Guyer before leaving the church grounds in her SUV with a trunk full of Easter baskets.