Operation Easter Basket 2018 Justin Rudd

Justin Rudd poses next to donations for last year's Operation Easter Basket event.

A 15-year-old Belmont Shore Easter tradition is back, and organizers are calling on Long Beachers once again to help with donations and more.

It's Operation Easter Basket and the goal is to put together as many baskets as possible for Long Beach area youth — just in time for Easter Sunday.

Long Beach nonprofit Community Action Team (CAT) is the organizer for the event. Justin Rudd, the nonprofit founder, personally collects donations and facilitates the basket construction events, which are scheduled for Wednesday, April 17, through Friday, April 19, at Bay Shore Church, 5100 E. The Toledo (interested volunteers can email justin@justinrudd.com).

There are ways to help in addition to volunteering to construct baskets, too.

Donations of full-sized candy bars — brand names like Reese's, Snickers and M&Ms preferred — shampoos, toothbrushes, toothpaste, Barbie dolls, books, baseball bats and more are needed for children from infants to 16 years old.

Socks for all ages, as well as baby booties, also are much needed items, according to organizers. CAT hosts sock drives all year long, and accepts donations at Bay Shore Church.

General Justin at Operation Easter Basket (copy)

SERIOUS BUSINESS. Justin Rudd delegates at the Operation Easter Basket assemble event at Bay Shore Church last year, explaining which items go in which baskets.

Each Easter basket is worth about $25 and are gifted to the children and teens in the area who are from low-income families. Cash donations also can be made online at justinrudd.com/easter. All baskets will be delivered on Easter weekend to local nonprofits — but the number of baskets depends on how much is donated.

This year, volunteers are needed from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. next Wednesday, April 17, and Thursday, April 18, and from 9 a.m. to noon on Friday, April 19, at Bay Shore Church to help assemble the baskets. Volunteers can stay for an hour or two, or however long their schedules permit.

Groups also can organize their own basket construction events and then deliver the completed baskets to Bay Shore Church the week leading up to Easter. Guidelines and requirements for the baskets are at justinrudd.com/easter.

Easter is on Sunday, April 21, this year.

Operation Easter Basket is accomplished every year through the help of volunteers. This year, volunteer organizers include Sumer Temple, Christie Peck, Amanda Johnson, Kevin Johnson, Andy Cohn, Virginia Sullivan Cohn, Sharon Sueki, Cynthia CiCi Marie, Shelly Stratton, Nancy Emslie and Laura Baker.

For more information about Operation Easter Basket, or to schedule a donation drop off, go to justinrudd.com/easter or email justin@justinrudd.com.

Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at sstutzman@gazettes.com.

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