Families Celebrate Easter and Donate to Austin’s Rainbow Room at the 8th Annual Egg Roll
By Avery Garrett
Reporting Texas TV
AUSTIN, Texas – The Capitol lawn hosted the Easter bunny along with live bunnies and other animals in a petting zoo for this year’s 8th Annual Easter Egg Roll.
The public event was open to everyone, but specifically aimed to provide opportunities for children in the Child Protective Services (CPS) system to enjoy Easter festivities.
“The kids get to go out, they do a nice Easter egg hunt,” said Marcus Cantu, the resource services director for Partnerships for Children, which works with children and families in CPS care.
“They get to get some fun toys and candy and just really, you know, go out and hopefully not worry about going back to the trauma that they’re experiencing or the uncertainty.”
The LBJ Future Forum co-sponsored the Easter Egg Roll as a donation drive for the Austin Rainbow Room, which Partnerships for Children operates as a 24/7 resource center for CPS youth.
Laura Bush founded the first Rainbow Room in Dallas in 1998 when she was the Texas First Lady. There are now Rainbow Rooms in every county in the state.
Brenda Jones oversees the 19 Rainbow Rooms in Region 7, which also includes Round Rock and San Marcos.
“We asked some of our families if they would like to donate items to our Rainbow Room, which help our families in need. So this is a great event for them, as well as giving back to our community,” Jones said.
Partnerships for Children asked for baby hygiene items like diapers because the Austin Rainbow Room gives away about 4,000 diapers a month.
“We never want to go with a time when a kid comes in and there’s not an item that they’re looking for, like if they need a certain size diaper and we don’t have it. We never want that to happen,” Cantu said.
“If we can get items donated, like the smaller items, the diapers, rash cream, baby wash, things like that, or clothing, then we can use funds that we raised as a nonprofit to do the bigger ticket items that are a little bit hard to get donated like a bunk bed or helping out with bill assistance.”
Everything is free for children, families and case workers partnered with CPS. The Austin Rainbow Room only accepts new items in order to give the children a sense of ownership over their belongings.
The shelves include toys, but Cantu said those aren’t the main draw for some children.
“You’d be surprised what they actually ask for. Sometimes you think they want all these extravagant toys but I’ve had a kid one time ask for a tuxedo because he wanted to impress his new adoptive family when he got adopted,” Cantu said.
The Rainbow Room helps over 500 children each month and relies on donation drives like the Egg Roll to help keep their shelves stocked and make sure no child goes without during the holidays.
Donations at this year’s Egg Roll packed an entire car to go directly to the Rainbow Room shelves. In 2022, the program provided over $340,000 in essential items to around 6,000 children.
“It’s like these extra holidays or fun times that, you know, kids look forward to, and sometimes families or caregivers may not be able to provide on top of everything else they have to provide for the kid already,” Cantu said.
This year marked the first time the Easter Egg Roll took place at the State Capitol. The LBJ Future Forum hosted it at the LBJ Library in previous years.