Shannon Phillips’ living room looks like the inside of an Easter basket, complete with stuffed toys and chocolatey goodness.
The Oak Bay resident has been collecting Easter goodies from within her community that will be distributed to children whose parents rely on the Mustard Seed Food Bank for help.
Of the 300 goodie bags that Phillips is hoping to assemble, 190 are ready to go. Phillips is hopeful more people will come forward with chocolate donations so that more children will wake up to Easter treats on April 8.
“My kids are five and seven and Easter is a huge, huge deal,” she said. “The Easter Bunny leaves eggs in the yard, and there’s always a toy.”
When Phillips contacted the Mustard Seed in January with an offer of help, Fran Kitson, told her the church’s Bunny Bags program needed support.
Through that initiative, Easter supplies are collected and then distributed to families with children.
“We’re not just a food bank,” said Kitson, Mustard Seed advocacy co-ordinator. “We are a church that ministers to the whole person and try and meet the need that they have for whatever reason they are coming.”
More and more families are coming through their door for support, particularly the working poor.
“They need more than food when they come for food,” Kitson said, adding clients may need everything from counselling to a birthday cake.”
“We all need that little Easter egg, or we all need the birthday cake,” she said. “We all need that little extra.”
When Phillips, through the Seed Ladies grassroots initiative she co-founded last year to support charities, asked the community for donations, the response was tremendous.
Oak Bay dentist Dr. Cheryl Handley donated 300 toothbrushes, while Ross Bay and Emmanuel preschools helped spread the word about the project, and collected treats.
Parents of Glenlyon Norfolk schoolchildren contributed 90 per cent of the goodies that have taken over Phillips’ living room.
“People have been walking up to me and handing me bags of chocolate, bags of stuffies,” Phillips said. “It’s been incredible.”
A look ahead
The Seed Ladies will next meet at the Penny Farthing Old English Pub on May 16 at 7 p.m.
Participants are asked to bring in-kind donations for the Mustard Seed Street Church.
For details, go to www.seedladies.com