T.J. Nissen filled 25 Easter baskets this year. He used a lot of candy, but he didn't include plush animals, sidewalk chalk, toys or books.
His baskets held deodorant, razors, shaving cream and other personal care products for the men at the Open Door Mission.
“For their first communion, they encourage you to do community service,” said T.J.'s father, Troy Nissen of Omaha.
Nissen would know: As an adult convert to the Roman Catholic Church, he made his first communion a year ago today.
T.J., short for Thomas James, will make his on April 14 at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church.
“He's so excited,” his dad said.
“My wife (Jeanne) and I have always donated to the Open Door Mission,” Nissen said, so he took T.J. for a tour. The 8-year-old picked up information about donating Easter baskets.
James Cummings, the mission's public relations coordinator, said, “We have kids doing stuff for us all the time, but usually they're doing stuff for other kids.”
He opted to help men.
“Sometimes adults need help, too,” T.J. told his mom one morning on the way to St. Vincent de Paul School, where he's a second-grader.
T.J. used money from his savings to help pay for the items that filled the baskets. His parents picked up the rest.
Father and son delivered the baskets and all the extra grooming items they had purchased.
“It's hard to talk about your son without feeling proud. This was so important to him,” Nissen said.
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