A scramble to find Easter eggs at fundraiser for foster kids

By Bethany Knipp

Hundreds of children scavenged for Easter eggs, leaving not one of the 4,000 of them behind in the fields of Northeast Community Park.

The hunt happened Saturday morning along with a 5K race for adults and a Rabbit Dash for children. It was a fundraiser to send children in foster care to an annual weeklong summer camp with the Royal Family KIDS organization, which provides mentors, clubs and camps for abused and neglected children.

Saturday’s egg hunters were assigned a field at the park according to age to keep the competition more fair.

In the 0-2 field, toddlers wobbled in the wind and popped eggs into their mouths with only a slight need for assistance from parents. They managed to collect as many eggs as members of less distracted older competition, who seemed to prefer hunting solo.

Two-year-old Nixi Brock was one tot who was especially successful at the egg hunt.

“She had over 20, but I put some back,” Nixi’s mother, Barbara, said.

Six-year-old Henry Crowell, who was with his sister, Rylee, and his grandmother Wanda Bruckerhoff of Manhattan, counted 20 eggs in his green stuffed dinosaur basket. Henry also ran in the Rabbit Dash and medaled with a third-place finish.

“It was awesome,” he said. Henry was headed to the inflatable bouncy houses following the egg hunt. Kids also enjoyed face painting, balloon animals, snow cones and popcorn.

Egg hunt volunteers worked all morning to dispense the 4,000 eggs that were filled with individually wrapped candy. There were three “special eggs” — one in each field — that earned its owner bigger prizes, including Starbucks gift cards.

Egg hunt coordinator Annie Butcher of Manhattan said she worked for 12 hours taping the rainbow assortment of plastic eggs together, making sure each egg had anywhere from one to five pieces of candy in it.

All the eggs and candy were donated by the Manhattan First Assembly of God church.

“The church started with 300 eggs,” Butcher said. She said all it took to organize the egg hunt was being a little bit meticulous and willing to ask for help from other people.

Butcher said a team of four volunteers distributed the eggs from 6:45 to 9:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, and by the time the egg hunt was finished at 11 a.m., everything was gone.

“Not one egg was left out there,” Butcher said. She went through the fields in intense winds to pick up anything the hunters might have missed.

This was the first year the organization included an egg hunt in the fundraiser, Royal Family KIDS camp director Glenda Newkirk, said. It was also the first time the event fell on Easter weekend, which Newkirk said the organizers plan to continue in the future.

Newkirk said in the event’s races, nearly 200 people participated, raising more than $5,000 to send children in foster care to camp where they get to swim, make crafts, do archery and forget about family circumstances.

“What we do is give these kids hope,” Newkirk said. She said three campers happened to be at the egg hunt.

After the egg hunt, one woman looking for Newkirk told The Mercury, “Thank you, from a foster family of six.”

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