BILLINGS — If you ever wondered what hundreds of Easter Baskets looked like, you need look no further than a warehouse here in Billings.
Over the last several years, one local couple has made it their goal to spread a little Easter cheer to families in need. Operation Easter was started by Shawna Morales and her husband Wes, and it was born out of the couples need to give back.
"You know, Christmas is well taken,” says Morales. “Other holidays have a lot of stuff that goes out to the community, but Easter was kind of forgotten. So we figured it's a great time for us to be able to give back and engage with the children that need help in the community.”
Every year, they give away baskets to single families, families in need and foster families. And what started out as just a handful of baskets and a modest mom and pop operation, has grown into dozens of volunteers and thousands of baskets.
Currently in their warehouse, by rough estimation, they have collected and built are over 1,500 Easter Baskets. But Morales says they are still taking donations and there’s always room for more.
“Right now, basically Wes is out there doing all the shopping and I have some wonderful friends that have stepped up. They're out shopping with him and they're helping them build. We've had a lot of people reach out in the community and want to come help and donate their time. We've had quite a few businesses that have opened their doors so we can drop donations... which has been great because we received tons of donations.”
And if you are looking to build and donate a basket you can, there’s still time. Donations will be accepted at designated locations until Friday April 2nd . One rule to follow when you’re creating is keep it simple. Gender specific baskets with toys, candy and games … and maybe add some Peeps.
“I love Peeps,” says Morales. “Some people don’t love peeps. But there are lots of peeps in the baskets.”
Whether you love peeps or not, Shawna says there’s is no way not to love what the team does at Operation Easter.
“It's overwhelming really for us as a family. I think it teaches my kids to be humble and to love to give back, just encapsulates really the true meaning of giving and opening your heart to other people, so that for us, being able to give back and touch those families and help is very close to our heart.”
Basket Donation Locations:
Engel & Voelkers – 623 Lake Elmo Drive
Opportunity Bank – 455 S. 24th Street West
Opportunity Bank – 1005 N. 27th Street
Movement Montana – 925 Broadwater