Easter Bunny Helpers

Easter Bunny Helpers

Impoverished area children can now celebrate Easter, thanks to the work of the Easter Bunny Helpers, a group dedicated to making Easter baskets for needy children in the quad cities area.

Founded by Martin Smith in 2016, the Easter Bunny Helpers have been able to collect over 200 baskets this year alone. “People need help. Not everyone has money to celebrate things like Easter, so I decided to help any way I knew how,” Smith said.

Inspired by the Facebook page “Pay it Forward — Quad Cities” Smith decided to create his own Facebook group dedicated to making and collecting baskets from donors.

“Many children in our area homeless shelters lead very difficult lives. Lack of privacy, and a lack of a sense of home. Many family events are just a distant wish,” Smith said.

One such donor is softball coach Lori VandeVoorde. She and her team created and donated 20 baskets to the organization. VandeVoorde coaches the Midwest Sluggers 16U softball team.

One player, Josey Pardee, said that part of the reason they chose the Easter Bunny Helpers is because it gives other kids hope for a brighter future.

Another player, Hannah Franklin, said, “This whole experience actually has been life changing, you realize that by making this basket, you could have possibly changed some kids entire outlook on life and make them want to do something and go for it in life.”

Baskets from the charity were donated to multiple shelters throughout the Quad Cities, including Family Resources in Davenport.

“All of the children who are currently staying at our shelter received a basket, which brought so much happiness and excitement to them! When families are staying in a shelter, often without a lot (beyond basic necessity items and having to leave most of their belongings behind), these generous donations truly bring so much joy. The moms all expressed how grateful they were for the kindness shown to their families and to see the smiles that were brought to their children’s faces,” said Family Resources: Shelter and Housing Supervisor, Amanda Carter.

Throughout the year there are numerous events hosted by Family Resources, varying from fundraisers to donation distributions.

“These events have a significant impact on those we work with- it helps to provide a sense of hope and community connection to the children and families as they work through crisis and the trauma they have experienced. It also gives the children an opportunity to experience some of the joys of childhood, that mom or dad would like to provide, but may not be able to at the time,” Carter said.

Last year, over 300 children were helped by Family Resources. These are primarily children that have been affected by domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking, which are also the leading causes of homelessness in the Quad Cities.

While the Easter Bunny Helpers has officially ended for this year, Smith has started another holiday donations group called “QC Santa Cause.” The group functions similar to “Easter Bunny Helpers” but they will make stockings instead. Stockings will be given to area children affected by homelessness, sexual assault, domestic abuse, and other such problems.

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