When I think of Easter, I conjure past memories of family gathering to celebrate a special occasion, plentiful food, laughter, children hunting for chocolate eggs, and plush Easter bunnies with floppy ears. Yet a large number of people this Easter will be unable to make a special meal for their family, hide chocolate eggs for their children and otherwise partake in an occasion that so many people are celebrating. This is the sad reality for families in the community who are affected by poverty.
Our Bunny Bags program was borne out of a desire to help children in need enjoy some of the wonder of Easter. With each bag to contain a stuffy and some Easter chocolates, we wanted parents to be able to present the goodies as a gift from the Easter bunny, a magical experience all children deserve to to enjoy.
When we realized that we needed to put together 300 bags in order to provide a bag for each child 10 and under that would be served by the Mustard Seed in the week prior to Easter, we went into high gear, collecting stuffies and chocolates from people we knew in the community.
Because my daughters attend Glenlyon Norfolk school, that was our first point of contact for donations. The response was overwhelming and enthusiastic. Ross Bay and Emmanuel Preschools also canvassed parents for donations, and, over a period of two months we managed to amass over 300 stuffies and enough chocolates and candies for almost 300 Bunny Bags.
Mid-way through the project, Dr. Cheryl Handley, a local dentist, offered to provide a new toothbrush for each bag. It was an amazing idea and made the bags even more special. We knew from experience with our own children that a new toothbrush would be well received. And, sadly, one of those items that, for parents who are struggling just to feed their children, would be a welcome luxury.
When Rogers Chocolates agreed to contribute to our project and donated 100 bags of candies, we surpassed our original goal of 300 Bunny Bags. We were elated and amazed by the success of the project, which would never have gotten off the ground without the generous and thoughtful donations from so many in the community.
This Easter, as I'm watching my own children search for eggs and marvel at the wonder of a visit from the Easter Bunny, I know I will be reflecting on the Mustard Seed children who will have received the Bunny Bags and the relief of their parents knowing that their children can take part in celebrating a holiday that is meaningful to so many. And I will be feeling gratitude for how a community can come together to make something special happen for so many children in need. In the end, that's what it's all about.