BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Alphonse Bifulco hasn’t had the easiest life. He grew up on the streets of Brooklyn, he said, dealing drugs and going in and out of jail. But he always celebrated Easter.
“Easter’s like the best holiday,” said Bifulco with a thick New York accent. “I love Easter. I like Easter better than Christmas.”
As a kid Bifulco got dressed up and did things outdoors with his family like go to the zoo or circus. It was nice enough to be outside so they took advantage of the warm temperatures. Now that he’s older and wiser at age 49, he knows that kids don’t have the same experience, especially one's from low-income backgrounds like his. However he wants to put a smile on their faces in some way.
“[I] just wanna give back,” said Bifulco, who created the New Leaf Project. “So I got 100 baskets I need filled. I need ‘em filled.”
Bifulco said he’s spent the last few weeks trying to fill the 100 spring-colored Easter baskets, which Walmart gave him for free. He’s got them all lined up on tables at the Tiger Room next to St. Phillips Church where he's putting them together. He’s stuffed a few with Easter candy favorites like cholocates, jelly beans and marshmallow bunnies. He's looking to fill the rest by Saturday evening.
“I got a couple families now like ‘Yo, you got a extra basket?’ said Bifulco. “I’m like ‘huh, I don’t. I’ll let you know if things come rolling in. I’ll call you back and I'll give you a basket.’”
He’s looking for volunteers to help him put the baskets together, which he’s going to do Friday night and Saturday morning at the Tiger Room on Van Buren Street. He said word’s been getting out about his latest project though. One woman donated large boxes filled with Girl Scout Cookies. Post gave him dozens of Fruity Pebbles cereal boxes at a discounted price. He said he wanted to give the families more than just candy.
“When you don’t have something to eat, that hurts,” said Bifulco. “That’s why I got the cereal for the kids. I always try to give a breakfast as well, snacks in between. Help these families out as best I could.”
Through the help of a local charity organization he was connected with 35 needy families in Battle Creek. Each family will get two baskets and one box of food. The rest he’s donating to a local shelter.
“I was kinda of blessed as far as eating wise,” said Bifulco. “I gotta make things right. Like I told you before, I always took, never gave. It’s about time to give back.
For more information, call Bifulco at (269) 317-9194 or email firstname.lastname@example.org