Eggstatic Jasmine breaks own record collecting 600 Easter treats for sick children
A selfless schoolgirl is spreading a little cheer this Easter by delivering chocolate eggs to hundreds of sick children across Belfast.
Big-hearted Jasmine Parker (9) from north Belfast has become the city's very own Easter Bunny, having collected 1,100 eggs for poorly young people over the past three years.
Her target for this year was to bag over 400 eggs, but after reaching out to people on social media, she has ended up with a grand total of 659 - thanks mainly to the support of several companies in Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Over recent weeks the front room of her family home has been stacked from floor to ceiling with boxes and boxes of Easter eggs.
This week Jasmine and her family members are distributing the eggs to kids in the Royal Victoria Children's Hospital, Ulster Hospital and Northern Ireland Children's Hospice in Glengormley.
For her proud mum Maggie Johnston (32), the run-up to Easter now involves chauffeuring her charitable daughter from one location to the next in a car filled to the brim with chocolate treats.
Maggie explained: "When Jasmine was six she asked me if the Easter Bunny visits children who are sick in hospital.
"I said 'no', so she decided that she would do it instead.
"It was a brilliant idea and one that has made me so proud of my daughter.
"Jasmine has always been kind-hearted so I wasn't surprised when she decided to donate Easter eggs to children who are her own age or younger, as she is so naturally caring."
After an appeal on Cool FM in early March to get as many donations as possible, either eggs or money to buy them, the response was immense.
"We started receiving donations from right across the province and beyond," Maggie said.
Jasmine, who attends Carr's Glen Primary School, was over the moon when 50 eggs were donated from Scotland alongside offerings from various other local companies.
The end result has seen Jasmine's house being overrun with chocolate eggs of every brand and size which have been collected over recent weeks for delivery to the children in time for Easter Sunday.
"The living room is so full of eggs that we can't even sit down on the sofa," added Maggie.
"It's like having a bath in Easter eggs, but when you see the reaction of the children after they get one, it makes it all worthwhile."
Assisted by Jasmine's dad Jay Parker (31) and her grandfather, the eggs are being packed up into the family's cars and brought to the hospitals and hospice this week.
Maggie explained: "The first year we collected 171 eggs followed by 283 the year after, so my car was a tight squeeze as it was so full. We're up to 659 this year so Jay's car is being used too as they won't all fit in mine.
"It's very emotional when you see the praise that Jasmine gets for doing this and the response this year has just been incredible. The staff in the hospital are always glad to see her coming each year and they can't believe how well she has done this year.
"Jasmine just wanted to make children happy while they are in hospital, but now she brings a smile to all our faces every Easter too.
"While it's our daughter who started all this, it wouldn't be such a success without the generosity of the people of Northern Ireland and further afield."
Jasmine is already looking ahead to a bigger campaign for Easter 2020 by setting a target to distribute more than 800 chocolate eggs.
"We are so grateful to everyone for their donations and kind messages of support and here's to a bigger campaign next year," her mum said.
After such a huge act of kindness, Maggie said she has had a quiet word in the real Easter Bunny's ear so Jasmine can expect her own special delivery of sweet treats on Easter Sunday.