Have you heard about the Teal Pumpkin Project? It inspired our family to assemble Halloween treat bags for children with allergies. What is the project? It’s a Halloween initiative from the Food Allergy Research & Education organization (FARE) to provide treats for kids with food allergies. I first read about this project on CNN a few weeks ago. While my own children do not have food allergies, they have plenty of friends and classmates who do. In fact, they have never been in a classroom without at least one moderate to severe food allergy. This isn’t unusual; according to FARE 1 in 13 children in the United States have some type of food allergy. Common allergies for kids include milk, nuts, eggs, soy and wheat. These food allergies can range from a moderate sensitivity to a life threatening reaction.
I feel a great deal of empathy for children who might never get to experience a bag of M&Ms and their parents who live with the knowledge that every mouthful of food can be dangerous. Did you know that in some children even touching the allergen can cause a deadly reaction? While thinking about the Teal Pumpkin project I also realized that there are disabled children in the United States who cannot eat candy due to muscle disorders and/or digestive disorders. These kids also miss out on some of the Halloween fun.
I decided that our family could help make Halloween a little happier for affected kids in our area. First, we talked about food allergies and the problems they present for some children on Halloween. Next, the kids and I went to a local party store where we picked out some fun Halloween toys, stickers, pencils and erasers (along with some non-holiday items). We also bought some cute “Trick or Treat” bags to hold the goodies. You can also find this adorable printable treat bag collection by Ashley Hackshaw at Lil Blue Boo.
On our way home the kids volunteered to clean out their treasure boxes (BrenDid code for the tackle boxes I use to store all the “precious” little items kids acquire at school, birthday parties, etc.). In no time at all we had a huge stash of non-candy treats.
The kids picked five or six items to stuff in each bag and I sealed them shut with a little yarn and then tied on a cute Halloween decoration.
It took us about an hour and less than $20 to assemble 45 adorable, non-candy Halloween treat bags for children.
I’m printing a Teal Pumpkin sign from FARE to post on our front porch to let neighborhood trick or treaters know we have a non-food option. I’m also posting the information on our neighborhood Facebook page.
I love projects that allow our family to work together to serve others. I believe that these activities help my children connect with others, think beyond themselves and their wants, and understand that they can make a difference in the world. According to Roots of Action, research shows that compassion plays a key role in helping children develop into engaged, caring, and optimistic adults.
If you have a little extra time and money this Halloween I hope you and your family consider a non-food treat option. It doesn’t have to be a big or fancy project to delight an affected child and help your kids think of others.