Meet Your Neighbor: Barbara Kenig
By Callie Thomas
Peter Rabbit and “Bugs” aren’t the only famous bunnies around. Resident Barbara Kenig, a.k.a. “E Bunny” has been hopping down the Easter trail with baskets of goodies for thousands of children in need over the past 21 years. “When my son Jay was just three years old he asked me if I was the Easter Bunny. My husband Howard’s nickname for me was Bunny, so it was inevitable that I decided to call our grass-roots community outreach effort E Bunny,” says Kenig. The E Bunny program started while Barbara and her family lived in Detroit; she started it here when she moved to Las Vegas twelve years ago. ‘It was funny because I”m Jewish,’ she said. ‘But it”s all about the kids. Everybody remembers them at Christmas and the big holidays, but nobody thinks about Easter.”
Formerly a radio and television producer, Kenig gradually moved into PR and Publicity to co-found the PR firm In the Public Eye with her husband. Currently, she utilizes her talents in reaching the media to raise awareness for individuals, businesses and charitable events and causes–particularly her own labor of love, E Bunny. The way Kenig looks at it, the baskets represent more than just a sweet treat or new toy for the children. “The meaning of Easter is so important to these families…the baskets bring a message of hope and renewal at a time when it’s needed most.”
With this effort, Barbara Kenig has garnered support from individuals and local businesses and has transcended religion to put smiles on the faces of thousands of children who live under impoverished circumstances. “Economic influences have made it more difficult for so many families who struggle day to day just to put food on the table for their children, and in many cases, a roof over their heads,” says Kenig. “We get requests from shelters and groups that help the homeless every year. We look for groups and organizations that aren’t sponsored by large charities or outreach programs. We look for those who otherwise wouldn’t have Easter baskets for the kids.” E Bunny has grown to provide as many as 2,750 baskets to children in 2009 and more than 1,800 in 2010.
Businesses and individuals donate pre-packaged Easter baskets that may be purchased at any grocery, drugstore or general department store. Last year the E Bunny delivered baskets to organizations including the Las Vegas City and Rescue Missions, Straight from the Streets, Clark County Social Services, the Las Vegas Housing Authority, Social Services, Lutheran Social Services, Nevada Social Services, Heads Up, Family Promise and Safe House. Kenig has garnered the support of local celebrities who have lent their time to public service announcements including Rich Little and Lance Burton. “Over the years, it’s been a blessing and a mitzvah to be part of the magic that’s created when community comes together to bring joy to our children in need.”
Barbara spends much of her time from January through Easter on the E Bunny program each year. The rest of the year she takes on other public relations responsibilities for various charitable causes that are brought to her through friends and associates. Kenig has been associated with L’Dor V’Dor, a senior outreach group at Temple Beth Shalom, Straight from the Streets homeless advocates, The Jewish Federation Food Pantry and Las Vegas Rescue Mission. She also enjoys passing out stuffed animals given to her by Ty inc. and other manufacturers of plush goods to children in hospitals and in the poorest areas of the city. She draws strength from the support of her family, maintaining a positive attitude and doing something to make a difference. “I believe we are here to help one another…the best thing we can do in life is get out of ourselves and do something for someone else.”
For information on donating Easter baskets through the E Bunny program, visit http://communitylink.reviewjournal.com/lvrj/ebunny.