Valley woman hopes to collect 500 Easter baskets for sick kids

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A Gilbert woman is collecting Easter baskets for sick kids. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) A Gilbert woman is collecting Easter baskets for sick kids. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
They plan to deliver the baskets the Thursday before Easter, which is April 13, starting at Cardon Children’s Medical Center in Mesa. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) They plan to deliver the baskets the Thursday before Easter, which is April 13, starting at Cardon Children’s Medical Center in Mesa. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
GILBERT, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Kids stuck in the hospital will get a visit from the Easter Bunny. It's all thanks to "Operation Easter Bunny" and a Valley woman's giving spirit.

"My oldest son is autistic. He was having a lot of seizures," said Mandi Neumann.

A decade ago, Neumann's son Porter was hospitalized during Easter.

“He said, ‘Mom, how am I going to know if Jesus is alive or not if I don't get a basket?’" said Neumann.

She says a nurse surprised him with one.

"He was just so excited, and it touched my heart, and I just started crying. I just could not believe that someone took the time out of their day just to make him happy. And it's something I couldn't do for him because I was too busy making sure he was OK," Neumann said.

That act of kindness has been driving her ever since. For the last eight years, she's been assembling baskets for other sick kids.

"Comic books, Hot Wheels, Barbie dolls, Play-Doh," said Neumann, listing off some of the items she likes to include in her baskets.  

She also collects donations from neighbors and friends.

"Some people make them for girls. Some people make them for boys. We range from infants all the way up to 17," she said.

Last year, she collected 300. This year, she's hoping for 500. 

They plan to deliver the baskets the Thursday before Easter, which is April 13, starting at Cardon Children’s Medical Center in Mesa.

Any extras will go to Valley children’s homes.

“Last year at Sunshine Acres was very first year that they had an Easter basket for every single child. What a blessing to have something for all the kids,” said Neumann. “And not have to say, ‘We didn’t have enough, so you don’t get one, but you do."

Her reach is now even greater. Just last week, she received her LLC status, the first step towards becoming a nonprofit.

“We want to touch people’s lives, and if it helps one child it’s worth it,” said Neumann.

Donation locations:

1) Neumann’s personal home - 415 W. Orchard Way, Gilbert

“My personal home will accept baskets every day, all day. I have neighbors watching my porch in case I am not home. However, I am a stay-at-home mom and am usually home!” Neumann said.

2) A1 Garage Door Service-  Southeast corner of SR 143 and University Dr. in Tempe.

"It's a great cause, and she's very passionate about it," said Tommy Mello, owner of A1 Garage Door Services.

3) Jay Almeida with the Almeida Group Re/Max Infinity -  2450 S. Arizona Ave, Suite #1, Chandler

He will match baskets dropped off at his location five to one.

4)  Bella Vista Senior Living1825 W Emelita Ave, Mesa 

Also donating their van to deliver the baskets.

Neumann also has a GoFundMe set up for people wishing to donate.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Lauren ReimerLauren Reimer joined the 3TV/CBS 5 family in June 2016. She is originally from Racine, WI but is no stranger to our heat.

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Lauren Reimer

She previously worked for KVOA in Tucson, covering topics that matter to Arizonans including the monsoon, wildfires and border issues. During the child migrant crisis of 2014, Reimer was one of only a handful of journalists given access to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility in Nogales, where hundreds of unaccompanied children were being held after crossing into the U.S. from Central America. Before that, Reimer worked at WREX in Rockford, IL. Lauren is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and still visits home often. When not chasing news stories, Reimer loves to explore, enjoying everything from trying new adventurous foods to visiting state and national parks or local places of historical significance.

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