ST. JOHNSVILLE — The H.C. Smith Benefit Club welcomed the community back in full force Saturday for its 11th Annual Easter Egg Hunt, the facility’s first large event since COVID-19 forced its closure over a year ago.
With COVID-19 still being a consideration, this year’s egg hunt looked slightly different from previous ones. When packing the colorful plastic Easter eggs with candy on Saturday morning prior to the event, volunteers — including about 15 students from the Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville Jr./Sr. High School — wore masks and remained socially distanced.
Said H.C. Smith Benefit Club Member Becky Hagadorn of the assisting students, “Saturday morning — on the first day of vacation — they were out here helping us.” Volunteering at the event is a win-win for students, as they get to be an active part of the community while listing their donated hours on college applications.
At previous H.C. Smith Benefit Club egg hunts, refreshments were portioned out and left for people to take as they pleased. With pandemic-related considerations in mind Saturday, students and community volunteers prepared and handed out pastries and drinks from several different stations.
While the egg hunt areas are always sectioned off by age, there were more sections cordoned off than usual Saturday, with special areas being designated for toddlers, kindergartners, first and second, third and fourth, and fifth and sixth graders.
Overall, volunteers hid — and liberally scattered across the ground as actual hiding spots became scarce — 3,700 eggs Saturday, 400 more than the amount hidden and found in 2019. “We figured we’d add more [eggs] this year since we couldn’t have this last year,” Hagadorn stated of Saturday’s event, which was attended by over 100 people.
Once all eggs had been discovered, the kids took the candy from inside and left the shells to be reassembled and used again during next weekend’s hunt. Twenty-two lucky attendees found golden eggs Saturday, and were given a large chocolate bunny or basket as a prize.
Hagadorn said that she was incredibly appreciative of all volunteers assisting in any capacity Saturday. With so many hands filling eggs, the task only took about two hours, while in previous years three or four benefit club members would fill several-thousand eggs over the course of a few days.
“We had so many people helping and it was great!” she commented.
“It was wonderful to see everybody out again and all the kids smiling,” added Hagadorn. “That’s the best part for me. I love to see happy kids!”
While Saturday’s egg hunt could be held without much risk — with all attendees wearing masks and being cognizant of social distancing — the H.C. Smith Benefit Club has been unable to host a fundraising event since its closure in March 2020.
The Wild Game Feed — the facility’s most popular fundraiser aimed at bringing in money for the club itself each April — has been cancelled for the second consecutive year due to COVID-19.
“It’s kind of hard financially, because we still give people money when they need it and we still have bills to pay,” Hagadorn said, noting that the club is currently planning to host a fundraising chicken barbecue sometime in June.
More information about that event will be released in the coming months.