Community Service: An Alternative to Halloween Candy
Halloween candy can be donated or repurposed for educational and scientific value by donating to members of the military deployed overseas to candy science experiments…
After the magic of Halloween has ended and bits of costumes have been strewn about the house, kids are left with fond memories and gigantic piles of candy. While the candy can be of moderate educational value, it primarily serves as an unnecessary dietary supplement that, if well-rationed, can hang around the house for months to come. As much as most children love to eat candy, health-conscious parents may not want the collected treats to hang around and be consumed. Never fear! There are lots and lots of alternatives to Halloween as it is most often celebrated.
Post-Halloween, candy can be donated or repurposed for educational and scientific value. Families can donate candy to Operation Gratitude, an organization that sends care packages to members of the military deployed overseas. Deployed military members don’t have access to many of the same comforts that they might have at a base on U.S. soil, and Halloween candy can be a special treat for them. Perhaps kids could choose a few of their favorite candies to keep and could send their donated treats along with other useful care package items, a letter of appreciation, or pictures they’ve drawn. (Donations are sent to the Operation Gratitude headquarters, rather than directly to military members.)
If you choose not to donate, families can use candy for some mad science experiments in your very own kitchen! Families can use skittles to examine density, M&M’s are great for chromatography experiments, certain Lifesavers include a chemical combination that can produce sparks. Families can use a variety of other candies to explore scientific topics like density, melting points, and states of matter. The website Candy Experiments offers directions for lots of easy experiments, and kids can invent some of their own, too!
If your family is willing to forgo candy collections entirely, some alternative items can be collected while going door to door on Halloween. UNICEF offers simple cardboard boxes for their program trick-or-treat for UNICEF that trick-or-treaters can use while traveling through their neighborhood on Halloween night to collect money to help support UNICEF’s international support programs for children. More intrepid families may choose to bring a wagon and ask neighbors to donate nonperishable food items for your local food pantry or an old blanket or bag/can of pet food for your local animal shelter. If your children collect items instead of pocket change, make sure they’re prepared to have some families decline (remember that they’re ready to give you candy and not canned soup), an excellent opportunity to practice emotional intelligence!
[Photo credit: (cc) Shauna Younge]