Costumes, parties and candy make for a lot of anticipation, fun and excitement for kids this month. While exact numbers are not known, the National Retail Federation estimates that more than $7 billion dollars are spent on Halloween each year, which is about $75 per person. October is also a month with all sorts of special holidays that are perfect for giving back to others before Halloween. Your kids can choose one or two ways to utilize their pre-holiday energy to focus on doing for those less fortunate or in need of company. The projects are simple enough for toddlers, yet suitable for teens too. Children will learn from a young age to reach out to take care of others. Kids will feel good about giving back to the community.
Do Something Nice Day – Wednesday, October 5
Do Something Nice Day can be great fun for kids. While the origin of Do Something Nice Day is not known, the impact can be felt by so many people. Have the children brainstorm ideas about who they want to do something for, and how they will do it. Something as simple as offering to help carry a box, holding a door open, or saying “thank you,” is a wonderful way for children to do something nice. All day long kids, can be on the lookout for ways to be nice to others. As the day progresses they will feel empowered through helping others.
Everyone recognizes a yellow circle with a smiley face on it, in any language all around the globe. Creator Harvey Ball, a commercial artist from Worcester, MA thought that one day a year should be devoted to smiles and acts of kindness throughout the world. The first World Smile Day was held in 1999. After his death in 2001, the Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation was founded to honor him.
Kids can make smiley faces in black on yellow circles, or they can come up with their own design, materials, color scheme and shape. Their smile can have a message on it. The point is to reach out to others to make them happy with warm, thoughtful greetings, expressions and words. Kids can wear their handmade smiles and tell people what day it is, or make a poster to share at school. Maybe the whole class can get involved in spreading warmth to others.
Sweetest Day – Saturday, October 15
Herbert Birch Kingston started Sweetest Day by giving candy and gifts to people who were home-bound, less fortunate or orphaned. With the help of movie stars Kingston, who worked for a Cleveland, Ohio candy company, distributed thousands of gifts throughout the city. Sweetest Day has spread to other parts of the country, since Kingston started giving out treats in 1922, during the depression.
Sweetest Day is a great opportunity for children to bake treats or bring small candies to others. Have the children think about who they want to deliver gifts to. Maybe a team or club group can do a Sweetest Day project together. Ask your town or church who might need a little gift.
Make A Difference Day is a national day devoted to helping other people by volunteering in the community. Since 1990, people have been reaching out in many ways to help others in need. Find out if your community or church has a Make A Difference Day program, or choose your own project. Find someone with a fence that needs mending, help at the animal shelter, or clean up the local park. Maybe Habitat for Humanity needs kids to help with a home they are building. Your group can get a lot done in one day to make a difference.
Kids can help needy kids in the U.S. or worldwide on Halloween through the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF program. Small collection boxes can be ordered from UNICEF to carry from door-to-door while trick-or-treating. Every coin helps, and 90.2 cents of every dollar donated to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF goes directly to help kids.
Sarah Yale is a writer and a mom who believes kids can make a big difference in our world.