Three non-profits come together to spread Easter cheer

Published: Apr. 3, 2021 at 7:19 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -More than 100 children are getting some surprise Easter cheer, all thanks to three non-profits coming together.

Last year the Lincoln Tree of Hope had to abruptly shut down their Easter celebrations because of the pandemic. They didn’t want to miss out on it this year, so they made some changes for social distancing and they’re using the Josh the Otter Organization to help teach kids water safety.

Cars were filled with Easter baskets Saturday afternoon at Josh the Otter in south Lincoln.

“We have 125 baskets here,” said Shannon Crellin, Lincoln Tree of Hope President and Founder. “There’s candy, toys, coloring books, stuffed animals... there’s all sorts of things.”

The Lincoln Tree of Hope teamed up with Josh the Otter and the Lincoln Giving Spirits Evening Rotary Club to help provide the baskets to those who might not be able to provide them this year.

“It’s definitely rewarding,” said Crellin. “I love doing it. The stuff that we do for the kids is what keeps me going the most because who doesn’t want a little kid to be happy.”

Josh the Otter is an organization that teaches about water safety. It’s inspired by Joshua Collingsworth who drowned in Lincoln back in 2008. The group was excited to be able to provide safety information and toys for children.

“Our first year of partnering with Lincoln Tree of Hope,” said Sara Reyes, Josh the Otter Development Director. “Anything that is kid related, we want to get involved in. Whether it’s another swimming entity or another organization in our community.”

Even though this Easter celebration looks different than in the past, they’re glad they’re able to host it.

“It’s very important that we let children be children especially during this time with the pandemic, and also we want to make sure that the kids who don’t have the opportunity to enjoy the holidays that we can be a little bit of hope for them,” said Reyes.

Josh the otter also provides scholarships for families who want to have their children learn the skill of floating on your back before learning how to swim.

They said their youngest participant is six months old and the oldest is in their upper 50′s, so anyone is welcome to learn.

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