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Couple keeps Easter spirit alive for HealthCare residents

Sunday, April 8, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:04 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bob and Bonnie Simpson know that nothing says Easter to a child more than a brightly colored basket filled with goodies. Hoping to instill that same feeling of happiness in the patients at Columbia HealthCare Center, the Simpsons deliver special Easter baskets to them every year.

In anticipation of today’s holiday, the couple set out Friday morning to deliver 50 unique baskets to delighted residents of the nursing home.

“It makes us feel good to see them smile, and that’s what it’s about — to make them smile,” Bob Simpson said. “Some of the people — with the conditions they have — all they have is the moment. And we like to make that one moment special for them.”

[photo]

Bonnie and Bob Simpson visit with Karen March at Columbia HealthCare Center nursing home as they hand out their Easter baskets Friday. “I’ve always appreciated what they’ve done for me,” March said. (JESSICA BECKER/Missourian)

The Columbia couple works all summer long, scouring yard sales around town and looking for items they could use to make their baskets.

They buy the baskets, colorful plastic grass, plush rabbits and anything else that could brighten the holiday. Bonnie Simpson assembles the baskets all on her own. It’s a job she says she always enjoys.

They shop at garage sales to save money, and occasionally people are so inspired by the Simpsons’ work that they make donations.

“We usually tell people what we’re doing, and sometimes they give us the things we need,” said Bob Simpson, a former housekeeping employee at Columbia Regional Hospital.

He and his wife are now retired.

This year, Linda Thurman, a friend of the Simpsons and fellow member of Christian Chapel Church, offered to help deliver the baskets to the center.

The Simpsons, who are both 69, started their Easter tradition 10 years ago, and the number of baskets has increased every year since then.

But Easter isn’t the only time of year the Simpsons donate their time and effort to the people at Columbia HealthCare Center. The couple strongly believes in doing charity work, and they visit the center a couple of times each month to spend time with residents. And every once in a while, they hold what they call a “giveaway.”

“We collect whatever we can,” Bob Simpson said. “Clothing, books, pocketbooks, shoes, sweaters, lap quilts, and we take the things over there for whoever wants them.”

Bonnie Simpson said they also deliver blankets and sweaters to Saint Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau at the start of fall.


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