By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News
With a pocket full of treats and sweets and an armful of plastic Easter eggs, a local kid from Tulalip beamed with excitement on the afternoon of April 2. Still in awe from a visit with the Easter Bunny, the young man’s mom spoke on his behalf, “He told me this is the best Easter ever! He met the Easter Bunny and gave him a hug.” As the mother and son made their way back to their home, the boy looked behind his shoulder every now and again, stealing glances at the Easter Bunny, in hopes of giving him one last wave as the bunny continued his tour through Tulalip.
“It’s always good to see the joy on the kids’ faces, and the parents too. They are happy to see that their children are being thought about in our community,” shared Malory Simpson, Founder of Together We’re Better, the local non-profit that organizes the yearly Easter Run.
Time and time again, as the Easter Bunny arrived at different neighborhoods of the reservation, children jumped with joy, and many of the kids ran to the bunny with their arms wide open to receive a big hug from the loveable character.
Together We’re Better has been delivering smiles across the reservation over the past decade. Every year the organization hosts a number of fun community-based events, such as the ever-popular Halloween gathering Trunk or Treat.
One of the many good things about Together We’re Better is the fact that each of their events has amazing turnouts and unites hundreds of Tulalip brethren together for a good time. And between the number of volunteers who commit to working the events and all the donations of food, candy, toys, and sometimes cash, it goes without saying that Together We’re Better is for the community, by the community.
Malory expressed, “Giving back to the community always feels really good. This is all community effort, so all of the donations were by Tribal members – Tribal members who are putting time and effort into stuffing eggs and buying prizes. Bags of candy were [regularly] dropped off on my porch. It makes my heart happy to see the community coming together to take care of each other.”
The Easter Run is a fairly new event, and this was the third year that Together We’re Better held the springtime celebration. In previous years, the organization hosted an Easter egg hunt for the people of Tulalip. However, the non-profit made the pivot to the Easter Run during the worldwide pandemic to eliminate the threat of spreading the virus.
Malory recalled that despite COVID, she wanted to continue with an Easter event, and she was inspired by the Tulalip Bay Fire Department’s annual Santa Run. The kids and families who live within the Fire Department’s district look forward to the Santa Run each year for a chance to meet St. Nick and also to donate non-perishable goods to the food bank at the Tulalip Church of God.
Malory reached out to Tulalip Bay Fire and formed a partnership with the department. So, in addition to the volunteers of Together We’re Better, several volunteer firemen join in on the fun and help deliver goodies to the kids every Easter. And as an added bonus, the fire department recruits the nationally known fire prevention mascot, Sparky the Fire Dog, who dishes out high-fives and daps a plenty to the children during the Easter Run.
Captain Shockley of the local fire crew stated, “We’re always eager for any opportunity to get out and create a positive impact, and to have more of that human connection with everybody in our community. It’s a great way to see all the kids and all the extended families. We’ve been doing the Santa Run for many years, and the Easter Run is another way for us to get out and show our faces more. It’s important for us to build those relationships because at times, we show up on not the best day for a lot of families. And if we’ve already formed those relationships of trust, that’s huge for us. And also, we love taking part in an ongoing positive event.”
The Easter Run has become so popular that Together We’re Better has decided to stick with the event, even after gathering limitations were lifted on the reservation. And with all the smiles displayed on the little one’s faces over the years, it’s easy to see why the non-profit made that call.
Throughout the day, the group of volunteers walked the Y-Site, Battlecreek, Larry Price/Ezra Hatch, Silver Village, and Mission Highlands neighborhoods. They delivered Easter eggs to well over one hundred children. The Easter Run is quickly becoming one of the more popular events at Tulalip, and after each visit, the children are sure to leave with a good amount of treats and happy memories.
“I just love it,” Malory exclaimed. “Their smiles and laughter make you feel really good inside. Just seeing their excitement was one of the best things about the event today. It’s pretty fun to see all of their reactions and see how happy the kids are to spend some time with the Easter Bunny and Sparky the Dalmatian.”
If you are looking to get more involved with the community, Together We’re Better is always accepting donations, whether it’s goods, funds, or your personally volunteered time. For more information, please contact Malory at (360) 913-1424.