Easter and springtime are special times of the year. The flowers and trees bloom, and everything begins to grow. In the spring of 1995, the Easter Bunny met Sam and Eleanor Meiner in Florida, and they visited the children in a nearby hospital. Sam and Eleanor believed that no child in the hospital should miss the fun of Easter or spring. They knew that it can be really hard to smile when you are in the hospital. So, they hopped into a convertible and drove to the nearest hospital to bring a smile to children’s faces. That was how The Easter Bunny Foundation began!
The Easter Bunny Foundation has a simple mission: to provide a personal visit from the Easter Bunny, who gives each hospitalized child a new plush toy and to share the excitement and wonder that only a visit with the Easter Bunny can bring.
Now, the Easter Bunny has lots of helpers. Sheriffs, their deputies, and The Easter Bunny Foundation help the Easter Bunny make visits to hospitalized children all over the United States, Canada and as far away as The United Kingdom!
The Easter Bunny Foundation, formerly Easter Bunny, Inc., has been hip-hopping around to visit children in the hospital during the week of Easter since 1995. The foundation originated in Central Florida and has expanded to include cities and towns throughout more than half of the United States, as well as over the big blue ocean and into England.
In 2003, we joined forces with Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary in an attempt to recruit other county Sheriffs to help spread the smiles across the state of Florida. We joined forces with 9 county sheriffs in Florida that year and visited over 1,000 children. Sheriff Beary then introduced us to the National Sheriffs’ Association, and with the cooperation of our new friends, 2004 was a tremendous year! In our first year of national expansion, The Easter Bunny Foundation more than doubled its participants, and our furry friend was able to visit more than 2,600 children. We were pleased to accept 15 new sheriff’s offices, who visited a combined total of 37 children’s hospitals or pediatric wards across the country.
It seems as though each year brought more exciting changes! As of April 2005, the Easter Bunny, with the help of 46 sheriffs in 25 states, hip-hopped to visit roughly 5,500 children in over 78 different Children’s hospitals, pediatric wards, and medical facilities. The Easter Bunny distributed a new plush toy to each child visited, as well as a fun-filled coloring book and 4-pack of Crayola crayons. Each Sheriff added his or her own personal touch by distributing stickers, badges, or safety coloring books. Some even made baskets!
Also in 2005: The Easter Bunny Foundation was officially endorsed by the National Sheriffs’ Association, and the program founders, Eleanor and Sam Meiner, along with their Executive Assistant to the Easter Bunny, Khira Williams, were sworn in as Honorary Deputy Sheriffs of Orange County, Florida!
2009 brought a major change to tradition in Orange County, Florida. In January, we said goodbye to our dear and faithful friend, Kevin Beary, as he retired from the Office of Orange County Sheriff, and we said hello to our new friend Sheriff Jerry Demings. We were more than excited to have him continue the relationship between The Easter Bunny Foundation and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. He attended and assisted with the distribution of our new plush bunnies, and he made the day for a quite a few youngsters in the hospital. Thanks Sheriff Demings! The National Sheriffs’ Association also reiterated their endorsement of our foundation, a very special honor, and we were able to visit with over 15,000 children!
The Easter Bunny Foundation has seen a lot of changes throughout the last 18 years of hopping through hospital halls. The most challenging problem we face is generating enough contributions and corporate grants to keep us in the cheer-sharing business. As the economy has wavered, so too have the funds that we rely on to provide each Sheriff’s office with the cute plush bunnies that they in turn distribute to hospitalized children in the community. We’d like to offer a sincere “THANK YOU” to all of our enduring friends and contributors. You have kept us in the business of bringing cheer and laughter to hospitalized children throughout the United States.
We truly look forward to the continued growth of The Easter Bunny Foundation, but we do still need your help… every dollar helps. So please consider The Easter Bunny Foundation when making your annual charitable contributions, and help us bring a joyous moment to a hospitalized child. Any interested civilians, Sheriffs or Hospitals who would like to help or who can help spread the word is greatly appreciated.
Thank You All and Happy Easter
Sam and Eleanor Meiner
6319 Gibson Drive
Orlando, FL 32809