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'Remarkable' Washago woman creates Easter gift bags for kids

'Every kid in the shelters, every kid in the community, any kid in need, I want to help,' says Linda Pearce, who has assembled several hundred gift bags for Easter

This Easter, hundreds of less fortunate children in the Orillia community will receive gift bags and Easter baskets filled with holiday-themed items.

The generous gifts are bought and prepared by Washago's Linda Pearce, who has been making gift bags for less privileged children in the community anonymously for the past ten years.

This year, Pearce continued her tradition by creating Easter gift bags which are filled with toys, treats, chocolates, and candy. She said 250 bags were donated to The Sharing Place Food Centre, and another 233 were donated to the Orillia Salvation Army Foodbank.

Pearce’s generosity comes from her love for children; she is the mother of four, and grandmother to 12.

“I have been helping children in need for about 23 years. I’ve helped with women’s shelters, Children’s Aid, (Child and Youth Advocacy Centre of Simcoe Muskoka) ... all kinds of organizations in Orillia,” Pearce explained.

“I get the most amazing delight by doing this that not anybody could understand. I have an amazing time serving people, especially the needy," she said.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Pearce used to give out 800 homemade stockings to local foodbanks.

In her home, she has more than 300 totes on shelves that her husband built in the basement of their home; they are filled with toys, candy, and chocolate that she buys throughout the year.

Creating holiday gift bags has become a full-time job for Pearce who lives with an auto-immune disease called Sjogren’s syndrome.

“I don’t have the stamina to get out into the community, but I can do things from home, so this is something that I decided to do as a way to give back to the community and to give back to whoever I can help,” she said.

“Every kid in the shelters, every kid in the community, any kid in need, I want to help. Last night, I was up till midnight because there were an extra five children who needed an Easter basket, so I was up working on that," she explained.

The Sharing Place’s executive director, Chris Peacock, says Pearce’s commitment to serving the community is heart-warming and welcome.

“Linda spends close to 12 months a year building these little packages to give to families and kids who might not have the opportunity to get those things, which is remarkable,” he said.

“The heart and soul that goes into it shows in the packages. It’s a wow moment when you see them; it’s rare to see something with that much sweat equity.”

Whether Pearce realizes it or not, Peacock says Pearce makes a lasting impact on the lives of hundreds of Orillia families each year.

“She makes an impact on a lot of kids' lives, and also the parents. It gives the parents that little extra thing that they can give to their kids on Easter that otherwise they may not have been able to afford,” he said.

“Holidays are tough for people living with limited income. They see all the advertising and marketing, less privileged kids hear from other kids at schools about the fun times and the big feasts and the toys that they get. If you don’t live in a household that is fortunate in that way, then it can be tough not only on the kid but also the parent," Peacock explained.

For anyone who would like to make a donation to Pearce’s cause, she can be contacted by email at [email protected]


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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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