Oak Park resident, Annie Larson, really knows how to host an Easter egg hunt. This past March she organized her 6th hunt, her fifth as a fundraiser for Hephzibah. 100 local children attended the event on the quest for candy, peeps, and a great time.
“What makes the event the most fun is the candy,” the St. Giles eighth-grader said. “As I started doing it, my mom and I tried to make it more healthy but the kids really like the candy.”
Annie held her first Easter egg hunt for neighbors and friends when she was in third grade. Everyone had such a fun experience that when it came time to do it the next year, Annie’s mother Kate suggested making it a fundraiser. Annie chose Hephzibah.
Since then Annie has raised thousands of dollars for Hephzibah. This year alone she raised over $3,200, up from last year’s $1,200. Each year the event has grown in attendance and scope. She relies on donations for the eggs, candy and of course, the chocolate.
Last year was the second year she attempted to get donations by going store-to-store in Oak Park’s downtown business district but both times proved to be too complicated and didn’t bring in many donations. So instead, this year she used her baby-sitting money to purchase the raffle baskets.
“Annie does 95% of the work herself,” said Kate. “She been learning how to do the finances and learn the basics of spending less and earning more.”
“I’ve learned a lot about communication,” Annie said. “But I think the main thing it’s taught me is time-management.”
She begins planning for the annual hunt over Holiday Break. Some of the kids keep the plastic eggs but many recycle them so that’s always the first step of the process: taking the plastic eggs out of storage, matching them up and putting them together. She then sorts the eggs by color because that’s how she organizes the day, with each grade hunting for its respective color. It keeps everything running smoothly, and it ensures that the bigger kids don’t get all the candy, something near and dear to the hearts of the 4-11 year-olds who live in Hephzibah Home.
“The most special time of the day is when the kids from the Group Home come,” Annie said. “They used to come at the same time as everyone else but this year they came earlier. I got to spend time with them and they got to refill their baskets—they really liked that part,” Annie laughed.
“Kids like Annie who go out of their way to help other kids are so inspiring,” says Juliet Yera, Hephzibah’s Director of Development. “We are so grateful to be the recipient of her generosity. She puts a lot of work into this event and it really shows.”
When asked why she keeps doing it each year, Annie responded: “In religion class [at St. Giles] we had an assignment that asked us ‘what are your strongest character traits and how can you use them for good?’ I’m good at this.”