WICKER PARK — The owners of a Wicker Park frame shop are collecting Easter baskets to donate to children on the South and West sides ahead of the holiday on April 17.
Helendora Samuels and her husband, Sylvester “Tommy” Samuels, own Helendora Samuels Picture Framing, 1736 W. North Ave. They’ve organized clothing and toy drives for Christmas and launched an Easter basket giveaway in 2021.
After collecting toys and other items for last year’s Easter giveaway, the Samuelses donated thousands of baskets at churches and community centers for kids on the South and West sides, Helendora Samuels said. This year, the Samuelses are asking for donations of baskets fully stocked with Easter staples. They’ll also take individual donations of toys and candy.
Last year, “people were so generous, but they would bring in the guts, they’d bring in the ingredients. So now if we can get people to make them,” that would be preferred, Tommy Samuels said.
The giveaway is sponsored by Helendora Samuels’ nonprofit, Stepping Out In Faith/I AM Austin.
It’s the latest charitable endeavor for the couple, who regularly give away food at homeless encampments and are collecting clothing and shoes to donate to relief efforts in Ukraine.
“We know there’s a lot of suffering going on in the neighborhoods where our people live, but at the end of the day, they’re suffering everywhere now because the pandemic has took a lot of people down and out,” Helendora Samuels said. “I believe in crossing the bridges, because if we cross the bridges and touch one another, we can help somebody as we go on. … That’s why we’re from Wicker Park to Austin to Oak Park.”
The Samuelses will accept donations at the frame shop until April 15, the Friday before Easter. They’ll also accept monetary donations to buy supplies themselves.
Questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of only a few Black-owned businesses in the Wicker Park-Bucktown area, Helendora Samuels Picture Framing struggled to attract customers during the pandemic.
The couple is “still keeping our head above water,” Helendora Samuels said.
“But we could still use more business,” Tommy Samuels said. “We’re still open. We’re still taking in framing orders.”
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