(Cheryl Weiss, April 16, 2017)
Berkley, MI – Jaycee Park in Berkley was filled with smiles, laughter, and activity on Saturday morning as dozens of families gathered for the Easter egg hunt put on by Berkley First Methodist Church. The church is new to the community; they just opened in January.
According to Katie Kirkpatrick, Small Group and Special Event Coordinator for the church, they are “doing things like the egg hunt to get to know the community, and for the community to get to know us,” she said. Pastor Zack Dunlap first asked the Berkley Parks and Recreation Department if they were planning a community egg hunt, but they had not done one in years. “As a new church, we are trying to do what’s not done,” he shared. Kirkpatrick stuffed 4,000 eggs with help from other church staff members and dedicated volunteers. The eggs were stuffed with candy, stickers, small toys, and other Easter goodies. The biggest challenge the organizers faced, however, was trying to stop the squirrels from stealing the eggs in the park!
The church staff planned much more than just the egg hunt for the kids, however. Before the egg hunt, picnic tables were set up for kids to create Easter craft activities, such as making a nest or bunnies from construction paper and other craft materials. The Easter Bunny himself was there to meet the kids and pose for pictures with them. In addition, there were a variety of lawn games set up for families to play before and after the hunt. Pastor Zack was accompanied by his family: his wife, Rachel and his four children; Sophia, Samuel, John, and Jedediah. “We have sunshine and a beautiful day for our egg hunt!” he enthused.
Matt and Michael Rhind brought their children, Charlie and Ava, to the egg hunt because “it would be fun for the kids, and gives us an opportunity to meet other families in the community, and spend time with them, “Michael said.
Four year-old Samantha said she came “because there’s an Easter egg hunt! I went to one at my school too, but I didn’t get many eggs there.” She was looking forward to filling her bucket with eggs at this hunt, and she did.
Pastor Zack gave kids aged three and under a head start to collect eggs, and after a few moments, the rest of the kids excitedly followed. Children scattered around the park, plucking eggs from on top of picnic tables, scattered around the grass, and even a few in tree branches, thanks to the squirrels’ help. The children were prepared for their haul with a variety of containers from Easter themed baskets and bags to grocery store shopping bags, all happily participating in the fun while parents followed, taking photos and videos to capture the moments.
But it wasn’t all about the children getting as many eggs as they could grab; there was kindness and sharing. After the eggs were all collected, Eva, age seven, peered into her brother and sister’s baskets, and put some of her eggs into their baskets. When asked why she did that, Eva said, “I thought it was nice, and they deserve to have more because they are littler.” She paused and added, “I gave some to another little girl too, when we gathered eggs.” Eva’s mom said all three of her kids do that all the time; they share what they have and look out for each other.
Eight year-old Jacob collected an overflowing bucket of eggs. When asked what his secret was, he responded, “Grab tons of eggs and run fast!”
The big winner of the day was little Quinn Thomas, just two years old. He found the special prized golden egg! Inside the special egg was $5, and the grin on his face was as bright as the golden egg.
After all the eggs were collected, and empty eggs deposited in recycling containers for next year, Pastor Zack reflected on the success of the activity. “We will do it again next year. It will be bigger, with word of mouth about the event. Berkley is such an awesome community, and we are glad to be a part of it.”