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Farmington business drive brings in a bounty of baskets

Anna’s Bananas employees loaded hundreds of Easter baskets into a busy for delivery last week. The four Anna’s Bananas locations collected nearly 500 baskets for kids at Children’s Hospital.1 / 2
The staff at Farmington's Anna's Bananas Daycare posed for a picture with the Easter baskets collected here in Farmington. 2 / 2

Great ideas don’t always happen during normal business hours. Just ask Anna Achtenberg, owner of Anna’s Bananas in Farmington. Or ask the kids at Children’s Hospital, for that matter.

In just nine days, the four Anna’s Bananas Daycare locations collected nearly 500 Easter baskets for kids receiving treatment at Children’s Hospital. The baskets were delivered Thursday, April 17.

It was somewhere around 2:30 a.m., earlier in April, when Achtenberg woke up with the idea of providing Easter baskets for the kids at Children’s. She’s not sure what triggered the idea. It just popped into her head in the middle of the night.

She thought it through. “What if,” she recalled thinking, “we asked all of our families and our employees to donate Easter baskets for these kids?”

The next morning, she called Children’s Hospitals. She learned there were more than 200 kids in two hospitals, so she set a goal of 400 baskets. She had nine days to collect those baskets.

“But that’s typical for me. I do my best work under pressure,” she said.

Besides Farmington, Anna’s Bananas has locations in Apple Valley, Burnsville and Northfield, and serve approximately 800 families. She spread the word to those families, put it out on the Anna’s Bananas Facebook page, and told everyone she could think of to spread the word.

And then the baskets started to show up in the lobbies of the four locations. At first it was one, then two. As the days passed, the number of baskets continued to grow, and the available lobby space started to shrink. It was exciting for Achtenberg, but her staff and the children also took pride in what was happening.

“It gave me the chills,” Achtenberg said. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. And it was such an incredible learning experience for the kids. It was unbelievable.”

The same day she made the call to Children’s, Achtenberg also learned that a friend’s son had just been diagnosed with cancer, and that he would receive treatment at Children’s Hospital. She dedicated the effort to him, and all of the other kids receiving treatment there.

The baskets were delivered to Children’s Hospital in St. Paul later in the afternoon, so there was time to distribute the baskets to the kids before the Easter weekend came around. Achtenberg knows some of the kids were going to be able to get out for a few days and spend time with their families, but for those who had to spend their Easter in the hospital, well, she hoped this effort made Easter a little bit better.

“If nothing else, no matter what, these kids will have an Easter basket,” she said.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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