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9,000 candy-filled eggs for todays hunt
George Montross brings out more candy for the plastic eggs. - photo by HIME ROMERO


• RIPON: Calvary Christian Reformed Church is conducting a free Easter egg hunt with registration at 9:30 a.m. and the hunt at 10 a.m. at Stouffer Park. A free lunch will follow.

• MANTECA: The Manteca Kiwanis annual free Easter egg hunt takes place at 11 a.m. at Northgate Park.

• MANTECA: The Commons at Union Ranch free Easter egg hunt is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with prizes, cookies and lemonade at the retirement facility on North Union Road.

For Noah Ledesma the practice was the same. 

Crack. Fill. Seal. Set. Repeat. 

For three years he has served with a group of volunteers from the East Union High School Kiwins class to take the nearly 9,000 plastic eggs that’ll line Northgate Park this morning and make sure that they contain the candy that the young children will go crazy over. The free hunt is today at 11 a.m. sharp.

At 9 a.m. Friday of his spring break, Ledesma led his own crew of volunteers at Prestige Senior Living to continue the annual Manteca Noon Kiwanis event that has long been a part of the fabric of the community. 

“This is your community and you need to make it better any way that you possibly can,” he said. “Getting to know that these are all going to go where the kids are going to be able to hunt for them and find them – that makes it all worth it.”

Ledesma wasn’t alone. 

The room at Prestige was packed full of independent groups that came down and helped – including members from Manteca CAPS, volunteers from the Noon Kiwanis (the event sponsors) and their family members and even a group of students that gave up a morning of their spring break to the annual event that something exciting. 

There was a time, more than four decade ago, that certain men of the community – the early founders of what would become the Kiwanis Club of Manteca – would get together the night before the annual egg hunt and spent all night telling jokes and turning thousands of hardboiled eggs into edible treats. 

One problem, however, existed – kids don’t eat eggs anymore. 

Over time the number of people that would come out and stock-up on the hardboiled eggs as viable, take-home option dwindled. 

And when the idea to incorporate plastic eggs into the hunt, a move that would still require a miniature army of volunteers, was finally solidified, it represented a drastic shift from tradition in a community that was all about traditions. 

But according to Noon Kiwanis President and event chairman George Montross, the change worked. While the group took a hit during the recession and have had to go up against other egg hunts, they’re still seeing more than 700 kids showing up every year. 

That requires 50 pounds of candy. And thousands and thousands of the plastic shells that have to each be opened by hand and stuffed with a drop of chocolate or taffy or something else that a dentist wouldn’t approve of. 

“Events like this bring out that sense of community and really show people coming together,” Montross said. “It makes me feel good knowing that I played a small part in putting that together, sure, but it also makes me feel good to know that I’m a part of that community. 

“We don’t have very many active members, but the ones we do have work hard at this. It’s a big event, and it’s important to us.”

It’s also important to Prestige residents like Velma Scarborough. 

While it’s difficult for her to snap the two plastic pieces back together once she places the candy inside, Scarborough said that she’s grateful that the organization chose the place that she lives to hold their annual event, and that she looks forward to getting to sit and talk with the high school volunteers that always come. 

“This is something that’s for the kids, and I like that,” she said. “And I like to sit and talk to the ones that come out here – find out what’s going on with them in their world.

“You find out a lot when you just sit and talk with them.”