By Ann Saye
“Halloween is the only time of year when you’re expected to be something you’re not,” says Rikki Marver of Spirit Halloween, the country’s leading seasonal Halloween retailer.
Being expected to be something you’re not is a familiar feeling for many patients at Texas Children’s Hospital, but it’s not always a good feeling. “When they are in the hospital, children sometimes feel as if they’re expected to be brave when what they really are is scared, or quiet and well-behaved when they really feel awful and are just plain tired and cranky,” notes Jamie Byrd, manager of the hospital’s Child Life department.
But there is one time of year when, thanks to Spirit Halloween, patients at Texas Children’s and pediatric hospitals around the country are expected to be other things that are much more fun—like vampires and pirates and witches and princesses. For the last two years, Spirit Halloween has hosted a giant party at Texas Children’s, bringing the fun and fantasy of the holiday to children who otherwise might not be able to enjoy it.
“No one can put a price on the looks on those children’s faces as they paint pumpkins and pick out Halloween costumes during our annual Halloween party at Texas Children’s,” says Marver. “It is a highlight for our staff, and at the end of each season, we are already beginning to think about party activities for the next year! We have a very special place in our hearts for the patients at Texas Children’s and are very proud of our partnership.”
The Spirit Halloween program also benefits patients and families at Texas Children’s well beyond the Halloween season. This year through their Spirit of Children campaign, the company contributed more than $116,000 to Texas Children’s child life program, bringing their total support for the hospital to nearly $173,000.
“With the funds they provide,” notes Byrd, “we are able to purchase toys and activities that our patients use all year. In addition, we have been able to obtain supplies to help adapt learning tools and toys for children with special needs.”
Since the campaign began in 2006, more than $1.8 million has been raised for 50 children’s hospitals throughout the United States and Canada.
“Spirit Halloween touches the lives of so many children who come to Texas Children’s, and we are fortunate to have such a committed partner in the community that is so dedicated to helping us meet their needs,” adds Byrd.