SPRINGFIELD,Mo– Dozens of employees at a local business in Springfield are hard at work overcoming their disabilities and making a living for themselves as they fill Easter eggs.
Easter is year round for employees at SWI Industrial Solutions (SWI) as they spend their days filling, sorting and shipping millions of colorful Easter eggs for businesses across the country.
“It’s crunch time so we just need to produce as many eggs as we can and make all the little kids happy,” explains Margaret Champlin, a coach and trainer for the Sunny Bunny Egg project.
Champlin says Sunny Bunny first started in Jan. 2009. “The first year we did 1.5 million eggs and this year, we’re shooting for 13 million and we’re not far from that.”
There are 69 employees at the workshop who work year round filling plastic Easter eggs that are shipped across the country.
“It’s just a joy to come in everyday knowing that they’re going to come in and you’re going to affect somebody’s life a little bit.”
Champlin tells KOLR10 in years past they have sold Easter eggs online, but now this year they are selling the Easter eggs in local grocery stores.
“Just getting the word out because so many people don’t even realize that the workshop exists,” Champlin says.
She hopes selling in local stores will allow people in the community to understand what her employees do.
“Any new avenue is a new step forward.”
The employees have special needs or a disability that limits them from entering the competitive workforce.
“It gives them meaning, and it gives us a lot of humility because they teach us more than you would ever imagine.”
But supervisors say they are training them to be successful.
“If they we’re able to go out in support of employment they would know the things they we’re supposed to do.”
Champlin says the money is important, “Okay, I’m here for a paycheck,” she says of many people. But it’s not the driving motivation for her workers, “These guys aren’t, they’re here for a purpose.”
Employees like Amanda Calvillo are working to fill eggs for the Governor’s Mansion Easter Egg Hunt.
“(It) means a lot to see the kids happy. To be able to do something so rewarding for somebody else besides myself. I always love doing other stuff for people,” explains Calvillo.
Supervisors say they focus more on their employees ability instead of their disability.
“You know what they’re capable of and we fight for them as much as you can,” says Champlin.
In Springfield, you can find the Sunny Bunny Easter Eggs at Hy-Vee and Harter House on Eastgate.