Kind Hearts Help Fight Real Monsters for Sick Kids This Halloween
Forget about the ghosts and goblins. These are truly scary monsters -- with names like cancer, leukemia and muscular dystrophy.
For the children who lie in hospital beds and live in the shadows of these horrors, Halloween is all cruel trick and absolutely no treat.
Gay Abdon is among a legion of people across the country doing something about that. She runs the Spirit Halloween store in Salem, Ore., and asks her customers to make contributions to Doernbecher Children's Hospital 60 miles north in Portland.
They take little convincing, she tells ParentDish.
"The thing that has amazed me is how many people have a Doernbecher experience," Abdon says. "They have the most wonderful, heart-warming stories."
A lot of monsters can chill your bones. The monsters these children face can break your heart, she adds.
"For them to miss Halloween and be sick would just be a tragedy," she tells ParentDish.
Spirit Halloween is a seasonal store that crops up in random retail spaces across America for just a few months each year. Abdon's store runs Sept. 9 through Nov. 7.
Every year, the company operates "Spirit of Children," asking people to give money to children's hospitals in their areas. Volunteers then go to the hospitals loaded with candy, crafts, costumes and all the fixings for Halloween fun.
The program started in 2006, and, USA Today reports, it has since brought in more than $2.3 million in cash and merchandise. Although Spirit Halloween stores are only open this time of year, the company is still the nation's largest Halloween retailer, with an online business that runs year-round.
"Spirit of Children is truly at the heart of our organization," Steven Silverstein, Spirit Halloween's president and CEO, tells USA Today. "We have the honor of bringing Halloween to kids who otherwise wouldn't get to celebrate and that is very special to me, all our employees and our partners. We try to help kids forget their worries for the day and ease the demands on the hospitals that we work with each year."
Volunteers visited Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland just this week. Kids dressed up in costumes while they painted pumpkins and played Halloween games.
Oregon volunteers have raised more than $33,000 for the hospital, according to KPTV, the Fox channel in Portland.
"The kids seem really happy," James Knueppel, a volunteer with Spirit of Children, tells the station. "They seem like they're having a good time and that's really what it's really about."
That's definitely what it's all about for Abdon.
"I'm 1,000 percent sold on the effort," she tells ParentDish.
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.