By Samantha SLAYBACK
Trick-or-treating is a Halloween tradition for kids across America. The prospect of dressing up and going door-to- door for candy is what excites children about the holiday.
Unfortunately, that candy is causing problems for children across the nation and around the world. Globally, children’s sugar consumption increases annually by approximately 2%; currently the bar is set at 50 million tons per year. For this reason, the YMCA is taking a stand to make a change.
Since it was founded, the YMCA has consistently encouraged individuals to live their lives in a healthy way. One of the new ways in which the Y is taking on this challenge is by conducting its annual Halloween Candy Collection.
“At the Y, we’re for healthy living,” confirmed YMCA of the Foothills’ director of Healthy Living Craig Strazzeri. “The purpose of this cause-driven program is to influence our kids to make healthy choices this Halloween, while showing our troops overseas we care and are thinking about them.”
This is the second year the YMCA has run this double-barreled campaign with the hope of improving the health of local children, as well as raising the spirits of the men and women in the military.
Y personnel will collect candy from local youth after they’ve gone trick-or-treating. For each pound of candy children donate, they will receive one raffle ticket. What prize could be worth giving up their Halloween candy? A brand new bicycle.
“This makes parting with the candy a little easier for our youths,” said Strazzeri.
Last year, the YMCA partnered with two local schools and managed to collect 1,000 pounds of candy. All of the candy acquired is then donated to Operation Gratitude.
“Operation Gratitude is an organization that annually sends 150,000-plus care packages and personal letters of appreciation to new recruits, veterans, first responders, wounded warriors, caregivers, and U.S. Service members deployed overseas,” explained Strazzeri. “Their mission is to lift the spirits of our active duty and veteran communities while providing volunteer opportunities for all Americans to express their appreciation to members of the military.
This year, the YMCA is working with four local elementary schools with the goal of doubling its collection to 2,000 pounds (one ton) of treats.
Another new addition this year is its partnership with the Montrose Shopping Park Assn. and extra support from shops around Montrose.
The Montrose Shopping Park Assn. will be hosting the YMCA booth at its annual Spooktacular event along Honolulu Avenue on Halloween night.
“It is a perfect tie-in, as the Montrose Shopping Park contains one of the oldest Vietnam war memorials in the nation at the corner of Ocean View Boulevard and Honolulu Avenue, which is where the YMCA will be set up,” said Montrose Shopping Park Assn. Event Coordinator Dale Dawson. When asked why the MSPA was so quick to take part in this campaign, Dawson said, “Anything for the troops! They deserve all the support we can give them. The MSPA is very pleased and privileged to have been asked to partner in this event.”
The YMCA booth located on the corner of Ocean View Boulevard and Honolulu Avenue will be accepting candy donations on Halloween night from 5 p.m. to 8pm during the Montrose Halloween trick-or-treat Spooktacular. Candy collections will also be held at the Crescenta-Canada YMCA and Verdugo Hills Family YMCA the morning after, from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Nov. 1. Children will have a last opportunity to surrender their candy in return for raffle tickets on Monday, Nov. 3 at participating elementary schools.
Drawings will be held at participating schools and at the Y at a later date.
The YMCA is still looking for volunteers to collect candy, sort candy, and transport candy at participating schools and YMCA locations. To learn more or to get involved, contact Craig Strazzeri at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at (818) 790-0123.