Gina Montalto. Courtesy family.

By Jill Fox

Preparations are underway for the second annual “Egg My House” neighborhood event supporting the Gina Rose Montalto Memorial Foundation which provides special Easter egg deliveries from volunteer bunnies.

The event was created in honor of Gina Rose, the 14-year-old victim of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High who loved children and the thrill of the hunt on Easter morning.

“Last year, when we decided to do this for Gina, it snowballed so quickly,” said Nicole Smeltzer, who had organized similar events in previous years with neighbors in Parkland Isles on a much smaller scale.

In less than 24 hours, the event raised over $3,000. Now, with several philanthropic groups that were important in Gina’s life now involved in the preparation, such as the MSD Color Guard, Girl Scouts and the National Honor Society, organizers, including Smeltzer, Gina’s mother, Jennifer, and two close friends, Catherine Walker and Tracy McQueen expect to go far beyond last year’s total.

Smeltzer said it turned out to be a great fundraiser. Students felt like they were giving back and remembering Gina on that day.

With each donation, volunteer “Easter bunnies” will deliver and hide candy-filled plastic eggs in residents’ yards the evening before Easter. They will also leave a sign on the lawn to let neighbors know of every family’s generous support to the Foundation. 

With the increased popularity of the hunt, this year’s logistics are more in-depth. A sign-up genius has been implemented to recruit team leaders who will orchestrate egg runners and drivers coordinating supplies and delivery. Almost 700 bags of candy and plastic eggs have already been donated, but not every neighborhood is covered. The goal is to include the entire Parkland community, along with a few areas of Coral Springs in the Stoneman Douglas zone.

Walker, volunteer organizer for the event, said the beautiful thing about it is there’s an opportunity for everybody who wants to be involved to participate.

“From little ones stuffing eggs to stay-at-home moms, retirees, middle and high schoolers, it’s something they all get excited about.”

Parkland parent, Melissa Sackman said she is looking forward to this year’s event where she will be a team leader for Parkland Golf and Country Club and is more involved than last year with the preparation.

“There aren’t a lot of volunteer opportunities for children, so the fact that this has a service component to it is really nice,” said Sackman.

Volunteers are still needed, including teams of egg stuffers, runners, drivers and more, and service hours will be generously allocated. Donations for items, such as plastic eggs, non-chocolate/non-meltable small candies, and even baby powder for Easter Bunny footprints will be accepted until April 15. Signupgenius.com.

The actual egg delivery will take place on Saturday, April 20. For your house to be “egged” the cost is $25 for 30 eggs or $50 for 60 eggs. To sign up, visit ginarosemontaltomemorialfoundation.org/eggform or if you would prefer to donate, visit the Gina Rose Montalto Memorial Foundation.