In response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic that has forced the cancellation of most traditional Easter events, two Upper Arlington service clubs are selling Easter kits to help residents celebrate at home, as well as fight childhood hunger in the Columbus area.

The Tri-Village Lions club had planned to partner with Upper Arlington middle school students for a service-learning project to pack Easter baskets for patients at Nationwide Children's Hospital and for those who receive services from the Ronald McDonald House, the YWCA Family Shelter and Huckleberry House Inc.

That project evolved, with help from the Upper Arlington Optimist Club, after students asked about service-learning opportunities Feb. 8 during the Volunteer UA Expo.

"We didn't have any, so we decided to create this service project," said Jane Jarrow, Tri-Village Lions service committee chairwoman.

However, when the pandemic wiped out the project, another one was created.

Through Friday, April 10, people may purchase the Easter kits for $10 by contacting Jarrow at (614) 571-5681 or trivillagelions@ aol.com.

The kits include a basket, plastic grass, plastic eggs, a stuffed rabbit and an instruction sheet with a maze and can be picked up Saturday, April 11. Kits will be delivered for a $5 charge.

All the proceeds, including the delivery fee, will go to the Children's Hunger Alliance, a Columbus-based nonprofit organization that provides meals to at-risk children throughout the state.

"It was kind of a perfect storm," Jarrow said. "The pandemic forced the cancelation of our project, and it forced the cancellation of the (Upper Arlington Civic Association) community Easter egg hunt.

"We had 100 kits left from our (planned) service project, and we thought, 'Here is the opportunity to make it work.' So we're packing baskets and selling them as kits, and all of the proceeds will go to the Children's Hunger Alliance."

As of April 1, Jarrow said, 90 kits were available, and the Lions could purchase more if necessary.

"Because we know everyone is so concerned about safety and social distancing, we're being very careful," Jarrow said. "The kits are going to be prepared in one house by one family, and they will be wearing gloves and all the packages will remain sealed.

"When they place their orders, people will be instructed where to pick up the baskets, and they'll be delivered curbside. The current plans are to have the Easter Bunny deliver them to people's cars."

Jarrow said each basket is designed for an individual; therefore, households with multiple children should consider purchasing multiple baskets, she said.

Any unsold kits will be donated to area organizations that serve children in need.

"They will land in the hands of the kids who otherwise wouldn't have them, one way or the other," Jarrow said.

Judy Mobley, Children's Hunger Alliance president and chief executive officer, said her organization would be "extremely grateful" to the Lions and Optimist Club if their fundraising helps it "respond to the immediate needs of hungry children during this unprecedented time."

Mobley said Children's Hunger Alliance also has a partnership with Columbus Metropolitan Library and is distributing meals to children during the pandemic through CML at the following branches:

* Whitehall, 4445 E. Broad St., Columbus

* Northern Lights, 4093 Cleveland Ave., Columbus

* Barnett, 3434 E. Livingston Ave., Columbus

The organization's website, childrenshungeralliance.org/map-a-meal-site/, shows the 60 statewide food-distribution locations.

"Children's Hunger Alliance is committed to helping feed children across Ohio who have lost access to school meals as a result of the pandemic crisis," Mobley said. "While many schools are continuing to feed their students, we know that some gaps exist where children's needs aren't being met.

"Additionally, we are responding to various community partners who need support feeding children they serve."

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