Tahoe locals donate gift baskets for ‘Aviana’s Peeps’ | SierraSun.com

Tahoe locals donate gift baskets for ‘Aviana’s Peeps’

Special to the Bonanza

Baskets were filled with comforting goodies, gift cards and some frivolous fun things, too.

On Saturday, March 12, Jen and Dave Hodder joined a volunteer corps of friends, neighbors, church members and other supporters at St. Francis of Assisi, Incline Village, for the first Aviana's Peeps Baskets.

Many of those who came to help had never met Jen and Dave, or this little girl whose life was about the betterment of others.

Aviana was a perfect mix of independence, kindness and spunk. Shortly before Aviana's third birthday, life forever changed; an accident left her brain injured. Though unable to talk or smile, Aviana still communicated and taught many life lessons to her loving parents.

Five years ago, Jen turned her focus toward others and began Aviana's Elves. By shopping and bringing gifts to those who were struggling, Aviana's parents found a way to help others while focusing on Aviana and the gifts she brought to their lives.

A new chapter of honoring Aviana began when Jen met Pastor William Nadeau and Pastoral Associate Katie Christiansen, and Aviana's Peeps was conceptualized — the "Peeps" name, a play on the marshmallow Easter treat, and also "peeps" as in "people," is the Easter equivalent to Aviana's Elves at Christmas.

The morning began with a prayer honoring those who have felt grief and those who offer hope. Generous donations allowed the baskets to be filled with comforting goodies, gift cards and some frivolous fun things, too — all meant to bring some joy to others and also to let them know that they are not alone. All in memory of Aviana.

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Baskets were delivered tin Truckee to the Cancer Center, Senior Center, Warming Center, and Hospice, and to those in need in our North Lake Tahoe community.

Each of the "peeps" that helped that day received a gift card with a message to give this to someone who touches you in a special way, or someone in need, or to bring a smile — just as this little girl, whose spirit is being kept alive, is still spreading her love and sharing smiles.

As one Peep said, "Such a blessing to have the opportunity to celebrate Easter in such a giving way."