A long line of cars filled the driveway of the Lighthouse on the Pike in District Heights, Maryland, on Saturday as parents and children gleefully drove up to the church to receive Easter baskets filled with chocolate bunnies, candy eggs and a variety of specially made treats.

The community event was part of a holiday celebration organized by the PG Change Makers, a local group aiming to combat systemic racism.

The organization’s agenda Saturday was to show love to needy families in the county amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and according to Change Makers member and event organizer Jeanette Brandon, everything was a big success.

“We have been doing a lot of things in the community and today we wanted to reach out to our children and nobody had to pay for anything,” Brandon said. “We stayed up to 10:30 last night making 120 baskets and we are also giving out books.”

Krystal Oriadha, who along with Amity Pope founded the Change Makers last year following the death of George Floyd, said, “whether we serve the community or we protest … we are about a holistic experience.”

As Rev. Gregory Wardlow, Lighthouse’s pastor, directed motorists around the church, Brandon and other volunteers stood on the front steps, handing baskets to children seated inside the vehicles.

“It is important to bring the church to the community,” Wardlow said.

The volunteers were joined by at-large Prince George’s Councilman Calvin Hawkins, District Heights Mayor Johnathan Medlock and a host of county and local officials.

“These individuals could be anywhere else, but they are out serving people on this Easter weekend,” Hawkins said. “This is what Jesus was all about. These Change Makers are doing what they should be doing: serving others in season and out of season.”

Medlock said the pandemic has had a major impact on residents in the community and the effort by the nonprofit group is welcomed.

“It is important to give back, even during this pandemic,” he said. “They say it takes a village and we are all part of that village.”

Sgt. Calvin Charles of the Maryland-National Capital Park Police concurred.

“[The Change Makers] want to give to the community and we need that,” Charles said.

Hamil R. Harris

Hamil Harris is an award-winning journalist who worked at the Washington Post from 1992 to 2016. During his tenure he wrote hundreds of stories about the people, government and faith communities in the...

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