Student residents treat childrento festive Halloween with parties, trick or treating Local ghosts, goblins and ghouls are haunting Chicago dorms this week as participating residence halls work with community outreach organizations to offer a fun and safe evening of Halloween festivities for neighborhood children and their parents.
This is the fourth year residents of Woodward Court will have a Halloween party sponsored by Strive, a not-for-profit organization serving the Hyde Park, Kenwood and Grand Boulevard neighborhoods. When graduate Jeremy Robins tutored for Strive four years ago, he organized a plan to bring Strive pupils and their parents to Woodward Court for a party and trick or treating.
"University students have been instrumental in our after-school tutoring program," said Renee Rilo, executive director of Strive. "The Halloween party is a perfect example of how University volunteers take on leadership roles to bring the community together."
Robins' successors, Sapna Swaroop and Arleigh Giroux, have organized this year's party. For the past month, the children have worked on creative writing, which they will adapt to a performance for the Halloween party. "Last year, as a girl read her story about being trapped in a dollhouse, the other kids spontaneously began acting it out," said Swaroop. "It was fantastic!"
Chaperoned by their parents, the children trick-or-treat through the dorm wearing costumes they created after school. This year, students are learning to fashion masks from different kinds of beans and to make accompanying capes.
Through sponsorship by Citizens for Midwest Workers, residents will welcome children to Shoreland for trick or treating. The program is coordinated by Bob Sigel, operations manager of the Midwest Workers Association, an all-volunteer, self-help association of domestic and service workers and other low-income individuals. "Kids enjoy a good, safe Halloween," said Sigel. "And the student volunteers-which we always need-donate candy as well as canned goods." The canned goods go to food baskets distributed during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
Pierce Resident Masters Charles and Sondra Cohen have coordinated a Halloween celebration for mothers and their children from St. Martin de Porres women's shelter for more than 10 years. Led by second-year student Colleen Peterson, Pierce residents have organized haunted dorm rooms, dorm trick or treating and a Halloween party. "The children are ferociously cute," said Charles Cohen. "Over the years, I've been touched many times by how grateful their mothers are."
Resident Head Andrea Voyer and Wick House Resident Assistant Jason Czarnezki lead Broadview's outreach to Hyde Park children from The Children's Center, an affiliate of the Ariel Foundation. In addition to collecting candy and bobbing for apples at the party, children will visit dorm houses converted into a spooky maze and a haunted house.
Students from Coulter House in Burton-Judson will travel to the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center in Chicago. "Our residents have teamed up with SSA and the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic to bring a Halloween party to young people who are awaiting trials," said Coulter Resident Head Liz Kooy. About 60 volunteers will organize a pumpkin-decorating party for nearly 600 children.
"The Halloween parties are fun for everyone," said Swaroop. "We hope it will inspire more and more Chicago students to get involved with community service organizations."