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Lifehouse Church shares love through Easter egg hunt

March 30, 2013|By MARIE GILBERT | marieg@herald-mail.com
  • Children rush out onto the outfield of Municipal Stadium for Lifehouse Church's Easter Egg Hunt held Saturday.
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer

If you offer candy, they will come.

Municipal Stadium in Hagerstown became a field of dreams on Saturday as thousands of children realized their biggest fantasy — the ground covered in sweets.

In an area of the ballpark where players prowl for line drives and home runs are smashed over the fences, children scrambled for plastic eggs filled with treats.

It was a free communitywide egg hunt organized by Lifehouse Church, an event held in partnership with local businesses.

“It’s our way of reaching out to children and families, sharing our love and providing everyone with a fun day,” said Sheliea Athey, administrative assistant for the church’s outreach team.

Team members had expected about 2,000 children to attend the event, but as the parking lot quickly filled and cars lined side streets, Athey said it was evident “that we easily surpassed that number.”

This was the first year for the egg hunt, “but with the success we’ve had today, we probably will do it again next year,” she said.

Athey said the outreach team wanted to do something big for the community for Easter and began brainstorming ideas last November.

“We decided on an egg hunt, then put in a request to the Suns to use their stadium — which was the location we really wanted — and everything began to fall into place,” she said.

Athey said organizers enlisted the help of church members, who signed up to volunteer for the egg hunt, make monetary donations or purchase eggs which they filled with sweets.

More than 32,000 eggs were provided for the egg hunt, Athey said. In addition to eggs supplied by the church, more than 20,000 candy-filled plastic eggs were purchased from a company that hires special-needs employees.

Organizers publicized the event in the local media and about 19,000 fliers were sent to all of the local elementary schools.

“In the end, it all came together, just the way it was intended,” Athey said. “Even the day of the egg hunt couldn’t have been more beautiful. God picked the perfect day for our kids.”

The event was open to children up to 12 years old and was organized by age groups.

Among those attending the egg hunt were Mike and Laura Govochic of Hagerstown, who brought their 3-year-old son, Carson.

“This is his first egg hunt, and he’s having a blast,” Laura Govochic said. “I’m taking plenty of photos and video to remember the day.”

Reilley Harris, 5, approached the egg hunt by thinking outside the basket. Instead of the usual woven container, the Hagerstown girl brought a bag she had decorated with glitter, feathers and drawings.

“It was her idea,” said her mother, Tanya Harris of Hagerstown. “We have plenty of baskets, but she wanted to do her own thing.”

Harris said Reilley has attended egg hunts in the past, “and always have a good time. This one was especially nice because it was close to home and very well organized. It was the perfect thing to do on a beautiful Easter weekend.”

In addition to the egg hunt, there were giveaways and goodie bags. The Suns mascot was on hand, as well as several other business and fire department mascots.

“I hope we’re making memories for a lot of these children,” Athey said. “It shows that we can share love even with something as simple as an Easter egg hunt.”

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