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Long Islanders plant Easter eggs for charity

Jennifer Martin's daughter Lilah finds an egg hidden

Jennifer Martin's daughter Lilah finds an egg hidden in her East Northport front yard on Easter 2017. Credit: Jennifer Martin

The Easter Bunny has been outsourced.

Deputized “bunnies” stealthily dressed in black will fan out across Long Island on Saturday night between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. to hide 7,000 eggs on the front lawns of people from Floral Park to Hampton Bays. Each homeowner paid $30 to have 30 colorful plastic eggs filled with trinkets planted on their property.

“Egg My House” is the creation of Justine Connor, 25, an insurance examiner from Smithtown. She launched the service last year to raise money for charity; this year she’s got 240 houses signed up. She hopes to clear $5,000 for a charity she formed in 2017 called Service Brigade to help Long Islanders who have experienced a tragedy, she says.

JoAnn Nickl of Smithtown used the service last year. Nickl’s daughter, Melissa, then 9, was starting to doubt the Easter Bunny’s existence, and walking out the door on Easter morning to find a lawn full of eggs has helped to reinforce her belief, Nickl says. “It was amazing,” Nickl says. The Nickls were still finding a few eggs in their bushes a few months later, Nickl says. They’ll be having their house egged again this Easter.

Volunteers from local high schools and Girl Scout troops stuffed the eggs with miniature toys such as tops. And 25 adult volunteers will be hiding the eggs. “They have to hide them only in the front yard. Some obvious, some concealed,” Connor says. The eggs are placed in bushes, trees or mailboxes.

Kara Retenski of Bablyon was part of the bunny brigade last year and is in again for this weekend. “It was so much fun,” she says of hiding the eggs in the territory she was assigned — Babylon, Lindenhurst and West Babylon. “It felt sort of like ‘Mission Impossible.’ ” She says she and the friend who accompanied her tried to avoid windows without blinds or curtains in case “little eyes were peeping out.” If they were, “we ran to the side of the house. We had to come back out when the coast was clear so the magic could happen properly.” She says Connor assured her that local law enforcement was aware of the undertaking.

Jennifer Martin of East Northport is another repeat customer. “It was nice to be able to donate money and at the same time have some fun with it,” Martin says. She usually does an Easter egg hunt inside her house, but searching outside gave the hunt a new twist. “When we woke up in the morning it was a surprise for my husband and myself as well.”

Martin and her husband, Rich, are looking forward to looking for the eggs this Easter with their three children, now 4, 2 and 1. Last year, it took them about 45 minutes to find them all. Because the toys inside the eggs are meant for ages 3 and older, Nickl says she monitored her kids’ opening of the eggs. “The kids were so excited to find the eggs,” she says, “they didn’t care so much about the toys inside.”

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