October marks the beginning of the “Gimme Holidays”: Gimme candy, gimme turkey, gimme presents. But the last two months of the year are also when people give more money to charity than the rest of the year combined.
Thanksgiving and Christmas don’t have to be the only altruistic holidays, though. Halloween is a great time to help families in need, too — and it’s scary easy to do.
Since 1950, kids have been trick-or-treating with UNICEF boxes, collecting money for this group that helps provide kids in 190 countries with “immunizations, education, health care, nutrition, safe water and sanitation, emergency relief, and more.” Over the last 68 years, kids all around the world have raised nearly $177 million for other kids!
A few days before Halloween, distribute flyers in your neighborhood letting people know you’ll be collecting old eyeglasses while trick-or-treating. Drop them off at your local Lions Club, which recycles them through the organization Saving Sight.
This group partners with ReSpectacle, which distributes them for free to anyone who needs them.
If you’re throwing a Halloween party, set the price of admission at a can of food per person. Have a special prize for the person who brings the most cans, or hold a raffle for a big prize — each can gets a ticket, and there’s no limit on how many cans guests can bring. Take all the cans you collect to your local food pantry.
This concept also works any time of year, so think of it the next time you have a birthday party, anniversary celebration, or even just a fun backyard BBQ!
Ask your friends and neighbors to drop off their old costumes collecting dust to you. Why? You can partner with a local group, like a charity thrift shop or the PTO of a school district in a low-income area, to get them into the hands of kids who otherwise might not have any.
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Donate to Spirit of Children
Spirit Halloween costume shops pop up in strip malls everywhere at the end of every summer, but they do more than sell you pricey costumes. The retailer raises money through its Spirit of Children program to help children’s hospitals. “Our mission is to make hospitals less scary for kids and their families through support of the Child Life department at partner hospitals in our local communities,” the group says on its website. “Since 2007, Spirit of Children has raised $45 million to provide Child Life funding for art, music, aquatic and pet therapy programs as well as the purchase of educational items and toys used for distraction during medical procedures, and much more.”
How much candy can your kids possibly eat? Their answer probably differs from yours, but instead of tossing those extra sweets in the trash, give a soldier a taste of home instead. Operation Shoebox sends care packages to our troops overseas, and they love candy! Many dentist offices collect for this group, but you can also send your donation directly to them at the address listed here.
Children in the hospital at Halloween won’t be able to go trick-or-treating, but you can still help them enjoy the holiday as any kid should. Raid the Target dollar section (or the dollar store) for inexpensive Halloween crafts and coloring books to deliver to your local children’s hospital. You might also check with your local children’s hospital to see if you can donate candy for reverse trick-or-treating.
Skip the tricks and give a special kind of treat instead
Brainstorm with your kids about a family in your neighborhood that could use a random act of kindness. Rake leaves, bake pumpkin bread, leave extra school supplies or warm jackets for the upcoming winter season — all anonymously.