MUSCATINE, Iowa–As part of their preparations for Easter, residents of Lutheran Living hold a fundraiser each year to support a different good cause. Many years, their fundraiser focuses on global causes, such as ending world hunger, building wells in Africa, or providing piglets to farming families in different countries to help them support themselves. This year, Susan Bantz, Lutheran Living’s director of spiritual care who organizes the fundraisers, serendipitously discovered a local cause perfectly suited to get people throughout the community involved.
While speaking with Nora Dwyer, who had long worked with Muscatine Center for Social Action’s food pantry, Bantz asked if the pantry needed any specific type of food on a regular basis. Dwyer shared that eggs represented one of the pantry’s biggest needs. Nutritious and versatile, MCSA purchases enough eggs each week to offer one carton to each family they serve, amounting to about 230 cartons a week. However, food pantries do not accept donations of perishable foods and do not get a significant discount on eggs like they do some other products, leaving them to pay around $250 every week to keep themselves stocked.
Right away, Bantz knew she wanted Lutheran Living to support MCSA for their annual Lenten fundraiser. Bantz came up with the clever name Eggs for Easter, and started spreading the word about the fundraiser throughout the community.
Beginning on Ash Wednesday, Lutheran Living residents could donate to Eggs for Easter through the collection plate at all chapel services. Bantz also invited the community to chip in by mailing in checks for the cause.
Because the COVID-19 pandemic continues to limit the activities Lutheran Living residents can safely do off campus, Bantz found creative ways to generate excitement for Eggs for Easter throughout Lutheran Living’s facilities. Beginning in February, Bantz hid large plastic eggs in residents’ rooms, which staff members had to find. Each egg found equaled a donation to the Eggs for Easter and a fun photo opportunity for both the residents and those who found the eggs. For those living in Lutheran Living’s independent living apartments, Bantz created donation banks out of plastic eggs that people could fill with coins for the fundraiser. Each day during devotionals, Bantz would share a new fun fact about eggs, which proved quite popular. On Easter itself, Bantz gave each resident and all the staff members on duty an egg filled with jellybeans to enjoy the sweet success of their labors.
In total, Eggs for Easter brought in $1,000, the most any Lutheran Living fundraiser has brought in to date. “It just astounds me how generous people are when you put a specific need in front of them, especially during the pandemic when so many people are hurting,” reflected Bantz. “I think it says great things about our community at Lutheran Living and the Muscatine community.”
Bantz also appreciated the way Eggs for Easter allowed Lutheran Living residents to stay involved in the community even at a time when they must social distance. “I try to do projects like this to keep them connected with the community,” she explained, adding it also, “helps people in a nursing home see that they can still have an impact.”