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Hausermann spearheads Baskets and Blessings event

Last year Nancy Hausermann handed out 363 Easter baskets in the Super 1 parking lot the Saturday before Easter. Guess how many kids showed up? 363. Hausermann said she thought that was a sign from God. 

This year Hausermann planned her Baskets and Blessings event for April 3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Linderman School lunchroom. Besides 480 filled Easter baskets which kids may win, the event will include an Easter egg hunt with divisions for ages one to five, five to eight and eight to 12, an easter bonnet/hat contest, carnival games, a huge bake sale and food.

Hausermann will post a schedule of events so families will know when the egg hunt and Easter basket drawings will be held. Kids need to be present to win a basket.

All during the event families can purchase 25 cent tickets for the carnival games, which will include a fish pond, balloon popping, bean bag toss and spoon and egg races. Also kids can guess how many jelly beans are in a giant jar.

Kids, moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandmas and granddads can all participate in the Easter bonnet/Easter hat contest. 

The Driftwood Café will be on hand selling hamburgers and hotdogs to hungry egg hunters. 

Proceeds from the carnival games and a portion of the food profits will go to support the Coalition for Kids. The Boy Scouts are coming to clean up after the last basket is given away and the last jelly bean is eaten.

Hausermann said many community members have helped her cause, but a few businesses really went above and beyond. Seconds to Go saved baskets for Hausermann, and Fidelity Title donated 96 baskets. Wal-Mart, Super 1 and China Gate contributed candy and money for treats to Hausermann’s project. 

The Salvation Army Thrift Store in Kalispell told Hausermann to “come in and get all the bunnies you want.” She took them at their word; one visit they contributed nine rabbits and the next time 65.

Hausermann washed the stuffed animals and tied new ribbons around their necks.

To fully fund the Baskets and Blessings event, Hausermann picked up items left after garage sales and donated treasures and held her own yard sale. The yard sale netted $800 with which Hausermann bought Easter grass, candy, more baskets and more stuffed animals. 

Hausermann started fundraising for kids 27 years ago when she still lived in St. Louis, Mo. The local Boy Scout troop had a Christmas tree lot, and somebody stole the trees. Hausermann made Victorian doll houses at the time so she donated one of her elaborate creations to the Boy Scouts. They auctioned the dollhouse off and made $5,000 — more money than they would have with their Christmas trees. 

One of her other projects in St. Louis was feeding miners when the mines shut down. College kids went door to door collecting canned goods. Then Hausermann and her crew made meals and fed 500 families.

One scene is burned into Hausermann’s mind. She was delivering a box of groceries to a house. A little barefoot girl raced toward Hausermann in the snow. The house the little girl and her family lived in had a dirt floor and rags in the windows. Hausermann can still see the little girl’s dirty face and how hungry she was and how glad she was to see that box of groceries.

“When you see something like that you know what your purpose in life is,” Hausermann said.

Hausermann and her friend Jerry Vilven moved to Montana in October of 1999. 

Hausermann said the Crips and Bloods were making garages in their neighborhood in St. Louis, and they shot the windows out of her van so she and Vilven decided to move. 

“I love the mountains,” Hausermann said, her bright blue eyes looking at the Mission Mountains shining in the sun. 

Hausermann and Vilven saw a pumpkin patch on Hwy. 28 near Kalispell with orange orbs waiting to be picked and taken home for jack o’ lanterns. There was a jar sitting out at the pumpkin patch with a sign that said, “We trust you.”

After seeing the sign and the Missions, Hausermann said she could live in an area like this.

They’ve called the Mission Valley home for almost 11 years, with Hausermann working for and with kids for most of those years.

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