Volunteers give Fresno families early Easter surprise

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Easter came early for some Fresno kids who might not otherwise be able to celebrate the holiday thanks to a special group of volunteers. (KFSN)

Easter came eight days early for some Fresno kids who might not otherwise be able to celebrate the holiday.

When Matthew Cromer and his two boys walked into Catholic Charities for the first time, it wasn't for a photo opp with the Easter bunny.

The guys were really in distress, but not for long.

"We felt very comfortable," Cromer said. "We didn't feel like they looked down at us at all."

Four months later, Cromer and the kids joined the festivities as Easter arrived for about 150 kids and their families. Games like the cake walk led right to more serious food on the way out the door, all courtesy of Catholic Charities and a group of volunteers from San Joaquin Memorial - the Junior Ministers of Presence.

"They're from low-income families who don't have much so we just try to give them a good experience to really have fun," SJM freshman Tess Solomon said.

"We give them toys and we also do arts and crafts, like painting on their face," sophomore Reed Walker said.

"It's so important because we get to give back to children in our community and see the children's smiles on their faces when they come," student Francesca Wood said.

And volunteers could paint a smile on their faces too. They also delivered Easter baskets that can change people's outlook on the upcoming holiday.

"It means a lot," Mikah Broom said. "My kids, it's been a rough month, so it's nice to see that my kids are going to have something to open on Easter."

Of course, Easter celebrates a rebirth, and in Cromer's case, there's no better place for that than Catholic Charities. On that first visit in December, he'd just gotten custody but he had nothing.

The volunteers didn't stop at feeding the three of them. One woman, he calls an angel, left and came back with a big Walmart gift card he used to buy toothbrushes, clothes, and even car seats.

"It blew my mind," Cromer said. "Sometimes you can get in a rut of thinking the world is lost, everybody is all about themselves. You walk into a place like this and you get your doors blown off."

And through that door, Cromer marked his rebirth as a parent.

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