'A happy surprise': Citywide Easter egg hunt looks to spread kindness in Winnipeg

A citywide Easter egg hunt is on in Winnipeg – though the goal of this hunt isn’t to find chocolate, it’s to spread some kindness.

The Gary Effect, a local group that hands out gifts to people around Winnipeg over the holidays, has started an Easter egg hunt in the city.

The eggs – each with gift card or gift – have been hidden in different areas around Winnipeg. Organizers say if you find one, you can keep it. If you can't use it – they ask you pass it on to someone who can.

(Source: The Gary Effect/ Twitter)

"During the times that we're in right now, we really wanted to do something that was still interactive, but also safe," said Jessica Boittiaux, who co-founded The Gary Effect with her sister Kay Lizon.

"They're meant to be a happy surprise on your walk to work or while you're walking your dog or at the bus stop."

PAYING IT FORWARD IN MEMORY OF THEIR FATHER

The Gary Effect has been spreading holiday surprises – similar to this year's Easter egg hunt – around the city for about 10 years now.

Lizon said she and her sister were inspired by their father Gary Boittiaux, who would throw big community Canada Day celebrations – complete with a barbeque and fireworks – in the North End for those who couldn't afford to celebrate on their own.

After their father died in 1995, the siblings said they wanted to keep his legacy going.

Gary Boittiaux (right) who would throw big community Canada Day celebrations – complete with a barbeque and fireworks – in the North End for those who couldn't afford to celebrate on their own. (Submitted: Kay Lizon)

"We wanted to be able to carry on his spirit and do something for our community and keep the community growing and being stronger," Lizon said.

So in 2011, she and Boittiaux randomly handed out about 800 gifts around Christmas time to different people around the city.

"It snowballed really quickly, and since then we've had up to 3,000 gifts," Kay said. "It's turned into an annual event."

The initiative – named after their father – has grown in the years since, reaching other cities and countries including Mexico and Australia.

'CHANGE PEOPLE'S DAY FOR THE BETTER'

This year's Easter egg hunt is one of many initiatives The Gary Effect holds throughout the year.

Boittiaux said there have been about 10 eggs hidden around the city so far, and they plan to hide another 10 eggs on Sunday.

(Source: The Gary Effect/ Twitter)

People can also donate an Easter egg to The Gary Effect through its website.

People who want to get involved can also reach out through The Gary Effect’s social media pages.

Lizon said they believe the Easter egg hunt, and other acts of kindness around Winnipeg, will create a ripple effect.

"The more people that hold a door open for someone or – it's kind of hard to smile with the masks now, but even just give each other a wave – just change people's days for the better. That's what we want to do."