No Easter egg hunt, so Willmar church donates Easter eggs to food-sharing nonprofit

The annual Easter egg hunt at Redeemer Lutheran Church has been canceled, as have so many other public events due to the coronavirus. The church decided to donate the already stuffed plastic eggs to nonprofit organizations.

Gloria Gardner, left, and Kay Johnson sort through colorful, stuffed plastic eggs Wednesday evening that will later be distributed to grocery recipients at the Hope For Our City grocery distribution program run through Community Basics in Willmar. The eggs were donated by Redeemer Lutheran Church after their Easter egg hunt was cancelled to slow the spread of COVID-19. Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune

WILLMAR — Beginning a week ago, families receiving food from the nonprofit Community Basics began receiving a special treat in the form of plastic Easter eggs filled with treats.

“It was such a huge blessing to help lift people’s spirits,” said founder and executive director Dawn Clouse. “It shows God does know what’s going on, and he cares.”

communities. Clouse said a total of 877 went out across the area this week, with 236 of those in Willmar. She noted that those numbers are up dramatically. A typical week in Willmar is closer to about 150.

The eggs were donated by Redeemer Lutheran Church of Willmar. After earlier Lenten services, volunteers had already filled at least 3,000 eggs with candy treats and small toys before Gov. Tim Walz’s stay-at-home order came last week because of the coronavirus, said Kim Canion of Redeemer.


The egg hunt was originally to be April 4. Then it was moved to April 18. “And then we knew it wouldn’t happen,” she said.

The purpose of the hunt “is to bless the community,” Canion said.

So people at Redeemer discussed “how can we still bless the community even though we can’t have the egg hunt we wanted to have.”

The church often makes donations of food or cash to Community Basics, she said.

With all those eggs ready to go, Community Basics seemed a logical place to donate them. Some were donated to Safe Avenues, too.

Clouse said Community Basics volunteers put a bag of six to eight eggs in each food share people picked up.

The church had also sent over a large bag of chocolate for the volunteers. When more people came for food than expected, the volunteers bagged up the chocolates for recipients.


“If families are losing income, it gave them a way to do something for their kids,” Canion said.

The program is open to “everyone who eats,” Clouse said. “It’s people helping people.” Participants are asked for a $1 donation “to help keep the roof over our heads.”

In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: or phone 320-214-4340
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