There are many things I love about Hallowe’en, but it can easily be perceived as a festival that encourages children to be greedy. It certainly seemed that way to me when I first moved here.
- How many goodies can they collect?
- Who gives the biggest and best treats?
- Who has the most elaborate costume?
It doesn’t have to be that way. Hallowe’en can be a perfect opportunity to encourage children to reuse, recycle and support their community. A number of initiatives persuade children to trade in excess candy and if we help children make their own costumes, they can utilise objects that might otherwise be thrown away. One thing I hadn’t considered until now is that donating and shopping at Goodwill thrift stores could help my kids be more socially responsible this Hallowe’en.
Last week I was invited, with a group of fellow Seattle bloggers, to visit the Milgard Work Opportunity Centre in Tacoma, a job training centre funded by Goodwill. When I donate or buy from Goodwill, I am glad to be reducing landfill and helping a good cause but I’ve never really looked into where the money actually goes.
Goodwill thrift store profits and donations, fuel programs that help people with limited income, disabilities and disadvantages to overcome barriers to education and employment. There was a lot to take in at our visit, the facility was inspirational and the staff and young people were unreservedly passionate about the facility. The model reminded me of Children’s Centres in the UK – a one stop shop with multi-agencies under one roof but for young adults rather than families. A place to go for training, support and education.
Some of the facilities available at the Milgard Work Opportunity Centre are:
- A job resource room
- Barista training
- A culinary school (they served us a really delicious, high quality lunch)
- Financial advice
- Youth build (learning the construction trade whilst working towards the GED)
- Drop in Math support
- GED program
- Warehouse and Logistics Training
- Computer and Office Skills Training
The following graphic explains the centre’s community impact.
The second part of our visit was to the Goodwill Hallowe’en Thrift Store in Spanaway – the largest such store in the country. It was a treasure trove of costumes and accessories.
I rarely buy new costumes. Part of the thrill of dressing up for Hallowe’en is deciding on a costume and using materials from Goodwill, Buy Nothing Groups or things we have at home, to create something unique. Rushing to buy the an expensive, ready-made costume feels like cheating to me.
Some of my favourite costumes over the years, have been made from simple materials. This girl in my daughter’s class was a vending machine-made from a cardboard box.
Every year my daughter’s school dance in the Thrill the World Event in Redmond Town Centre. The zombie costumes are great fun to make and each year they decide on a theme. Last year we put together this Hamilton inspired zombie from a dress somebody donated.
My younger daughter is joining in this year and wants to be a zombie fairy. I found some great items at the Goodwill Costume Store which I will share with you soon. We have a family trip to Goodwill scheduled this week. My youngest wants to make a bat costume and I’m hoping the others will find inspiration for their costumes. I’ll share the fruits of our labours soon.
I know it can be tempting to simply run out and buy a ready-made costume but consider these great reasons for creating your own.
- Recycling old costumes and clothes helps reduce landfill
- Your costume will be truly unique
- Encourages creative thinking
- Encourages working together and problem solving
- Learn skills
- Encourages sharing as you request materials from friends and community.
- Reduces costs
- Encourages forward planning and design
- It is a great family activity
- It raises money for worthy causes.
Why not donate last years costumes at a local thrift store/ charity shop or organise a costume swap to encourage your kids to recycle and help those less fortunate?