In the seasonal spirit of sacrifice and generosity, a case worker recently spent her entire $1,400 stimulus check to make Easter baskets for the children of Culpeper.
“I woke up at 4 in the morning and thought, I really want to do something to help,” said Amber Grubbs, an employee of the Culpeper County Department of Social Services, working in homelessness prevention and child-care services.
The 24-year-old mother of two young children experienced times in her own life when she could have used some help.
“I have been a single parent for five years. I had to do it all on my own,” Grubbs said. “I know how it is to not have a job and to be stressed out during the holidays.”
She experienced periods of homelessness in a former marriage and is a domestic-violence survivor. So when Grubbs received her federal relief check in the mail through the American Rescue Act, she decided to spread some joy to local youth not as advantaged as others.
Grubbs spent two weeks compiling supplies and assembling nearly 250 Easter baskets for Culpeper foster kids and those attending Head Start and Kid Central preschool.
Her own two children, aged 2 and 5, helped her create the baskets, with a variety of treats and toys for babies up to age 11. Shoppers in the local stores where Grubbs purchased the supplies wanted to know why her cart was so full of goodies.
“What are you doing? I’m just helping out,” she said.
Grubbs said since she was 18 she wanted to work for social services, and that it’s the best job she’s ever had.
“I wanted to really try to change the community and do everything I can to make sure everybody in the community has what they need,” she said.
Grubbs, since last March, is also a member of Salem Volunteer Fire Department, where she runs calls as a firefighter and EMS every other Saturday when her children are with their father.
A former Eastern View High School Cyclone, the local case worker started something positive with her basket project that will continue.
“I talked to my boss and next year they will throw an actual Easter basket drive and I will be in charge of it,” Grubbs said. “Salem VFD will do their own drive, too. They both thought it was a great idea.”
Kid Central program coordinator Rachel Palmer was amazed when Grubbs approached her about the project.
“She said, ‘Hey guys I want to spend my stimulus check and buy baskets for all the kids in this building.’ Just unbelievable. She shopped for all of this on her own,” said Palmer, who works out of the Galbreath-Marshall building on Old Fredericksburg Road in the town of Culpeper. “Oh my gosh, we were so touched that she would be that thoughtful.”
“What a lovely thing for her to do—not just the money investment, but the time she invested in putting all these baskets together.”
The baskets were handed out in drive-thru fashion outside the Galbreath-Marshall Building on the evening of Good Friday. Entire families came through to collect the gift-laden baskets, colored green, blue, pink and purple, given by the young woman with a heart for community.
There were many, many smiles and a visit from a couple of Easter bunnies from the Culpeper Police Department, spotted at various locations around on town on Friday, including The Culpeper retirement village.
“It turned out great,” Grubbs said, noting she saw all the smiles, too. “It makes me so happy!”