Easter weekend is usually filled with sunrise church services, family dinners, and Easter egg hunts. But this year will be much different in Scott County. Most churches across the country are not having services now, due to the federal government’s guidelines for slowing the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. Many families are practicing social distancing, which means the dinners and egg hunts will be canceled.
However, the Boys & Girls Club of the Cumberland Plateau is hoping to bring some cheer to the community by sponsoring an Easter egg hunt for local families and children. This egg hunt will be different — and will adhere to the social distancing guidelines — because families will not have to leave their vehicles to find the eggs.
Justin Sharpe, chief professional officer for the Boys & Girls Club, said the idea actually came from the BGC of the Colorado River.
“I instantly thought it was a great idea,” Sharpe said. “Seeing a lot of pictures on Facebook, shared memories of past Easters, kinda hit home for me that this Easter would be drastically different for all of our kids, but we could still do something fun and cheerful during a tough time for our families.”
The BGC has been closed since mid-March and will remain closed through at least April 24 due to the closure of the Oneida and Scott County school systems.
“The club’s mission has not changed due to the virus,” Sharpe said. “We just have had to redefine how we would continue to develop our youth and teens, so we have been going down the road of ‘virtual programming,’ creating online content, and finding ways for kids to interact while still playing safe. Child safety still has to be our No. 1 priority.”
The egg hunt encourages local businesses to display eggs and decorations that can easily be spotted from a car over Easter weekend. Sharpe knew that something of this magnitude would be a big undertaking to get off the ground and get businesses to partner with him in such a short amount of time. He enlisted the help of Stacey Swann, executive director of the Scott County Chamber of Commerce.
“I presented the idea to Stacey because I know you won’t find a better-connected champion of Scott County,” he said. “I had no expectations for Boys & Girls Club to be recognized or anything like that. I just wanted to put a good idea out there that would benefit our kids and community. Stacey got back to me and just ran with it.”
Swann shared the idea on Facebook and through the Chamber of Commerce’s network. From there, it took off.
“Local businesses are already starting to post pictures of eggs in their windows, on their walls, and around landscaping,” Sharpe said.
Businesses are encouraged by the Chamber of Commerce to share photos of their eggs and decorations to social media and use the hashtags “ridengoseek and #ScottCountyStrong. Families who participate in the egg hunt will be eligible for prizes that have been donated to the Chamber.
You don’t have to look far to see how quickly the idea of a community Easter egg hunt has spread. Businesses like United Cumberland Bank, the Scott County Family Justice Center, H&R Block and Baby J’s Pizza have already gotten behind the effort by displaying the eggs in their windows.
Local households are also getting involved. In the Meadow Creek community, families will find eggs on the lawns and in the bushes of several homes. The home of Matt and Paige Roark is just one of those.
“Our normal has been taken away. We wanted to participate in this fun activity to give families something to look forward to and to together,” the Roarks said. “We want families to have fun, enjoy the ‘less busy’ side of it, and recognize what Easter is reall about: a risen king.”
A sense of togetherness was one of the main reasons the BGC felt that this was the ideal time for a community effort like the Easter egg hunt. It is providing families the chance to reconnect.
“This egg hunt, to me, is kind of an opportunity for a family to get in the car, get away from the negative news, go hunt eggs, have fun, and experience something joyful together,” Sharpe said.
The local club serves over 1,000 children annually. Of those, almost 650 do not live in a traditional family setting with a biological mother and father. Many are from single-parent homes or are in foster care. By providing a chance for the families to experience Easter together, local businesses and homes can share a part in that family restoration. It is one way that the community can show that it is connected and cares for one another when it’s needed the most.