No doubt about it, Halloween is a "gimme-gimme" holiday: Knock on door, hold out bag, collect candy, repeat. But some people have found ways to turn Halloween around, making it a time of giving in addition to taking. Here are examples of their largesse, and how you and your kids can help:
Fifth Annual 'Operation Gratitude'
Dr. Steven Boral, orthodontist
400 N. Broadway, Jericho
380 Dogwood Ave., Franklin Square
HOURS Call for drop-off times
Kids bring candy to one of Dr. Steven Boral's orthodontic offices, where he will buy it for $1 a pound, with a cap of $5 per child. He donates the candy to "Operation Gratitude" to be shipped to soldiers in Afghanistan. While younger kids usually take the cash, some older ones tell Boral to donate their money to the cause. "They realize it's a community effort," he says. Soldiers enjoy the goodies and also give some to children in Afghan villages, Boral says. Other area doctors sponsor buyback programs; not all donate the candy to causes. Some schools also participate in collections; Bayview Elementary in the West Islip District will have cauldrons in halls to collect candy, says Rhonda Pratt, principal. All six district elementary schools are partnering with orthodontists Howard Tichler and Jenny Abraham to send candy to U.S. Marines.
Say 'Thank You'
Kids usually grab candy and high-tail it to the next house. But Golly Gee-pers! has launched a campaign to get trick-or-treaters to hand a "thank you" to the giver. Download them free at gollygee-pers.blog spot.com; choices include a ghost or friendly witch.
Trick or Treat for UNICEF
800-FOR-KIDS; trickortreatforunicef .org
Kids still carry the iconic orange box door-to-door to collect coins, but the charity has some modern twists. The side of the box has a Microsoft tag, so people with smartphones can donate $10. People can also donate $10 by texting TOT to UNICEF at 864233. Kids can go to an online "costume party," where they upload a photo of themselves, put their face on a costume and share the image on Facebook. Donate $5 to get a bigger selection. Some schools are collecting -- fourth-graders in the Rocky Point district have created baby scarecrows displayed in school hallways; students vote their favorite by placing change in UNICEF boxes. UNICEF provides health care and emergency relief to kids in 150 countries. Last year, Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF raised $5 million nationwide.
'Cause An Uproar'
National Geographic TV is encouraging kids to dress as wildcats to spread the word that animals such as cheetahs and tigers are endangered. The annual campaign also includes suggestions for DIY costumes, Cat-O-Lanterns, face painting and masks. Kids can collect change as they trick-or-treat to donate to the cause; boxes are available free at Pottery Barn Kids, or download labels to wrap around a coffee can or other collection tin at CauseAnUproar.org.
Elementary schools collect gently used, clean costumes to discreetly distribute to students who need one. At Jefferson Primary School in Huntington, parents drop off costumes, and on Halloween morning, the school sets up a "boutique" so children who don't have a costume can "shop," says principal Margaret Evers. "We want to make sure the kids feel respected through the process. They get to chose, sometimes they try on," Evers says. Children wear the costumes in the school parade and can bring them home for trick-or-treating, she says. Belmont Elementary School in North Babylon and Babylon Memorial Grade School also do costume drives; check your elementary school for similar programs.
5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday
Newfield High School
145 Marshall Dr., Selden
COST $2 per child and requested can of food
National Honor Society students lead a group effort with other clubs at the school to run a safe activity for younger kids. They create a haunted maze and do cookie decorating, face painting and arts and crafts. Canned food is donated to local food pantries. "The fact that the students wanted to give something back to the community, that's one of the life skills we try to promote," says Ted Fulton, principal. Check if your high school is sponsoring similar events. Lynbrook High's National Art Honor Society, for instance, sponsors a "Pumpkin Blaze." Students carve 200 jack-o-lanterns and illuminate them on the school field from 6 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 29 (516-887-0200); children come in costume for face- and pumpkin-painting. It's $5 per person; proceeds benefit Island Harvest. Last year the event raised more than $3,000, says Michael Kunz, adviser to the Art Honor Society.
Equal Exchange, 50 United Dr., West Bridgewater, Mass.
When you hand out chocolates on Halloween, can you be sure that child labor wasn't used on the farms that supplied that cocoa? Kids interested in social justice can participate in "Reverse Trick-or-Treating" to educate consumers about Fair Trade chocolate, which guarantees fair wages and working conditions for children. Go to the website to print cards explaining Fair Trade chocolate designations. When offered candy at a person's door, politely say, "No, thank you, but I have something for you" and offer them the card. The Comsewogue School District participates in a different way: During the high school's recent homecoming parade, the Port Jefferson Station Teacher's Association handed out Fair Trade chocolate and the "Reverse Trick-or-Treating" educational card to spectators, says Beth Dimino, president of the association and an eighth grade science teacher. If your child wants to add a piece of miniature Fair Trade chocolate to every card given out, it's $24 plus shipping for 150. It's too late to order chocolates for this year; order by the first week in October for 2012.