Last year, when Norwood Baptist Church held their first community Easter Egg hunt, people came up to the organizers and wanted to know who they should pay. But the church wasn’t looking for payment and they weren’t looking for money this Saturday either.
Last year was a success, and it was an even bigger success this year.
“We’re looking to build better relationships with the community,” said Becky Harris, who along with her husband Kevin are key organizers of the event. The event started inside the Norwood branch of the Warwick Boys and Girls Clubs and, as the rain died off, transitioned outdoors to the bouncy houses, hot dogs and the star attraction – a frantic rush for 6,000 plastic eggs each filled with a piece of candy. A few eggs also had a bell that meant a prize for their finders.
“People are sort of hands off with church these days,” said Harris. She reasons people don’t want to get caught up in talking about their religious beliefs and are wary of being misjudged. “We’re regular folks. We love to have fun,” she said.
The church is also actively engaged in the community. Working with Norwood Elementary School, Harris said the church has identified several kids who come from families that don’t have the resources to provide nutritional meals on the weekends. The kids get free breakfast and lunch at the school, but of course that doesn’t happen on Saturday and Sunday. The church has a backpack program that sends the kids home with food for the weekend. She said the church also assisted a homeless family that was living out of their car last year with food and lodging.
“Churches get a bad rap these days,” said her husband, Kevin. “People think they [churches] want money. We’re not asking anything in return,” he said.
The event included games like a sack race and a jellybean race where contestants with plastic spoons clenched in their teeth carried the beans to paper cups. Even Pastor George Barclay took on the challenge, out-spooning Mike Cayer, who works in the church fellowship and outreach program. Cayer said an aim of community programs is to “help guide them back to church…we need God in our lives.”
Those in attendance were asked to complete a survey of other activities they might be interested in. Norwood Baptist does a free pancake breakfast with Santa in December. Other possible events are a movie night, a session on how to manage finances, a vacation Bible school, grief counseling and a youth group.
The church had some help in pulling everything together, too. The Warwick Texas Roadhouse gave out 200 tokens for a free kids’ meal and was present to serve up doughboys.
As for the eggs, they were disbursed over a field divided into quadrants for different age groups. With kids lined up at the starting gates, parents at the ready with their cell phones, the race was on to quickly fill bags. The exception was the really young children. With a parent or grandparent close by or, in many cases, firmly holding their hand, they set off to find treasure, which often was no more than a few feet in front of them. But it was an Easter egg and they had found it.