The 1st Gravenhurst Scouts are gearing up for their annual Breakfast with Bunnies event, which offers members of the community the chance to have a pancake breakfast and take photos with bunnies while supporting local scouts.
Breakfast with Bunnies includes all-you-can-eat pancakes as well as the chance to take keepsake photos with rare bunny breeds at Gravenhurst Scout Hall from 8 to 11 a.m. on March 7. The pancake breakfast fundraiser is the group’s biggest fundraiser of the year aside from Scout Canada’s annual Apple Day, which sees troops across the country canvassing their neighbourhoods and handing out apples to thank their communities. Breakfast with Bunnies has been running for five years and the money raised helps cover the costs of being a scout.
“We’re a parent-sponsored group, which means that the parents themselves cover all of the costs of scouting from registration to uniform to going to camps to activities,” said Michelle Desmarais-Hodgkinson, event organizer and fundraising chair for the 1st Gravenhurst Scouts.
Sometimes families are unable to cover the costs, she said, which can range from $25 to hundreds of dollars depending on the camp or activity. “[Fundraising] allows us to get the kids their sleeping bags or get them their uniform or cover the cost of the camp for them, so that all the scouts get a chance to go and participate without it being a drain on the families or being left behind because the families can’t afford it.”
For some families, they choose to participate in scouting because it’s all they can afford to do, Desmarais-Hodgkinson said, so the fundraising is often what allows kids to fully participate.
“It’s great that all the kids can participate, and they all bring something different whether it’s a story or a skill or a unique talent,” she said. “It’s great to see all these different kids go and share everything they can do with each other.”
The fundraiser costs $25 per family or $20 with a donation for the food bank. Individuals and couples can get in with a food donation or cash donation of their choice as well. Parents and volunteers will be cooking up the pancakes while the scouts deliver food to guests, which can be pretty cute when it’s the five to seven-year-old Beaver scouts, Desmarais-Hodgkinson said.
“You see them puttering around with a plate trying to keep the pancakes from falling off and trying to clear a table with people that are only half done eating,” she said. “But for the most part, [the scouts are] really good and people love seeing the younger ones.”
Desmarais-Hodgkinson’s four kids raise the bunnies that appear in the photo booth and show them at events like fairs along with bringing them to schools, daycares and senior living facilities. Her daughter Liora, 14, has been coming to Breakfast with Bunnies for years, overseeing the handling of the rabbits and ensuring that everyone gets a chance to take a picture with them.
Desmarais-Hodgkinson said it means a lot to her year after year to see guests enjoy the breakfast and to see the impact the bunnies have on the children. She encourages locals to join the fun and support the scouts by showing up on March 7 for pancakes and pictures.
“We see the donation bucket filling up and we see the food basket getting bigger and bigger and we see smiles, especially when people post pictures online after,” she said. “You can see the kids have just a look of wonder in their eyes that they’re holding a live bunny and, as a parent and as the event coordinator, it’s really a source of pride.”