My 4-year-old has been planning her Halloween costume for months. She's on the fence about whether she wants to be a hyena (thank you, Lion King) or Tinker Bell (because of the dress, of course). And, of course, costumes and candy are a big part of the excitement of Halloween, especially when you're in the single digits.
But I'm hoping that my daughter is old enough to share the hospitable Halloween spirit with our community. Giving back doesn't have to be difficult. Set out a jar for donations at your Halloween to-do, or run in a 5K where the proceeds go to a local charity. Bonus: You'll feel less guilty about all those candy corns you're going to eat.
1. Donate used costumes.
If you have a stash of outgrown kids' costumes, donate them so other families can get the goods without the sticker shock. Ask your local children's hospital, elementary school (try the school nurse), or food pantry if they are able to accept clean, used costumes. Or bring them to a thrift store where they will be sold at a considerable discount.
2. Run a 5K.
Check to see if there's a Halloween 5K in your area. While you might need to dress up and run as a zombie, the proceeds often go to local charities. (And you can burn off some of that candy you stole from the kids.)
3. Party for a cause.
At this year's Halloween party, set out a jar (decorated with cobwebs and plastic spiders, if you like) where friends can stash some cash for a local food charity. Try programs that help connect local farms to families in need or nonprofit CSAs. Because while there might be an excess of candy at this time of year, there are always families who could use help getting dinner on the table.
Need ideas? Here are 10 food charities to give to this fall
4. Head to the dentist.
Through a program called Halloween Buy Back, many dentists, doctors, and hospitals accept candy donations to send to troops overseas. (Let's just hope that they send toothbrushes, too!)
5. Pick up the trash.
When you head out for your morning run (or walk) the day after Halloween, bring a small trash bag with you and pick up the discarded candy wrappers on your route. Your town will thank you!
How do you help make Halloween benefit your community? Share in the comments!