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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Student groups help on Halloween

Published: November 5, 2010
Section: Features

For the 23rd year, Brandeis students have taken Halloween, a night associated with free candy and hyper children, and transformed it into a night of giving back to the Waltham community. This year, approximately 200 volunteers participated in Halloween for the Hungry, Waltham Group’s biggest annual event.

Halloween for the Hungry is a food and toiletries drive, in which Brandeis students collect non-perishable items from local Waltham residents while trick-or-treating. All donations go to Bristol Lodge Soup Kitchen, located in Waltham.

In the weeks leading up to Halloween, student coordinators go around the city to let locals know about Halloween for the Hungry. This prior warning is legally required but many Waltham residents are already excited.

“Most of the people that we encounter remember, since Halloween for the Hungry has been going on for 23 years. Older locals get excited about it and some people already have their cans ready,” said one of this year’s coordinators, Jennifer Abidor ’11.

Halloween for the Hungry is one of the largest community service events at Brandeis. Many groups participate, including Rather Be Giraffes, the Russian Club, and Peers Educating Peers about Responsible Choices.

“I decided to participate in Halloween for the Hungry because some of my close friends have done it in the past and said that it was fun to relive childhood trick-or-treating and at the same time do some positive and helpful community service,” said Barbara Stark ’12, one of this year’s volunteers

On Halloween, volunteers dressed up in fun costumes and trekked to Shapiro Lounge to be assigned streets in Waltham. Some volunteers even requested to be assigned the same streets they had last year. BranVan drivers were also helpful as they brought volunteers to their assigned streets.

Many residents had prepared bags set aside for the volunteers, and some even had written thank-you notes expressing their appreciation for Brandeis’ community involvement on Halloween.

“The Waltham locals were extremely nice, welcoming and charitable. They knew immediately that we were from Brandeis…some said that they have participated with this in the past and that they appreciate Brandeis’ shared efforts to help out the community,” Stark said.

Volunteers were also excited to be able to receive candy again.

“I felt like a kid again,” said Naveh Halperin ’12. “It felt magical being able to trick-or-treat, and we got a lot of candy from the Waltham residents. But the best thing about the experience was being able to be with such a positive group of volunteers, and it felt very genuine.”

Overall, the night was a success. By the end of Halloween, more than 2,500 cans had been collected. The following morning, volunteers from Bristol Lodge Soup Kitchen came to collect the food and were very pleased with the large donation.

People are already looking forward to next year’s Halloween for the Hungry. Abidor, who will be graduating this spring, laments the fact that this will be her last Halloween for the Hungry.

“I wish we had Thanksgiving for the Hungry, or even Valentine’s Day for The Hungry,” said Abidor with a smile.

Andrew Mandel ’11, a Waltham group coordinator for Hunger and Homelessness, described it as “the only community service event of its kind, where such a broad section of the Waltham community is involved.”

For some, Halloween brings back memories of last-minute costume shopping, sugar-high children and free candy. In Waltham, however, residents can think of Halloween as a night of giving back.