The Best Halloween Ever
Really this story begins three years ago. My grandmother was living in a “Retirement Center”/Elderly Care Facility place and as Halloween approached,I really wished I could take my kids to visit her in their costumes because I knew she would get such a kick out of it. But being that she Lives in Utah and I live in California, it just wasn’t an option. So I tried to comfort myself by hoping that some children’s group would visit her facility and she’d atleast get to see someone’s child, even if it wasn’t mine. But thinking more about that, I realized that if I wanted someone to be visiting my grandma for me, then I needed to visit their grandma for them! So I started calling around to my local elderly facilities to see who might appreciate a visit.
And so it began. This is the third year that I have organized a visit to a “Retirement Center”/Elderly Care Facility for a Costume Parade and Singing performance with some families in our ward. When I called about a month ago to set it up, I was hesitant as to whether they’d really want us coming again since we are such a small group. The event organizer was relieved I was calling, saying she’d lost my phone number, and that the residents had been asking her for the past month if we would be coming back to perform again this year. I knew right then that what we were doing was appreciated by these sweet old people.
This year we had more families join us than in the past, which was exciting (We had about 10-12 children). We went on Sunday night and paraded through the dining hall and visited with the residents as they ate dinner. They were expecting us, so they had their buckets of candy ready to pass out! Then we moved into a little room with a piano and the children sang some simple Primary songs (ending with I Am a Child of God), for about 15 minutes, and then we visited for a few minutes. The residents LOVED it. All told, we were there about 35-45 minutes. Each of us moms said the same thing to each other afterwards: we could feel the Spirit so strong as we entered the building, giving us the reassurance that we were doing the right thing! Our children, and the elderly, needed this experience!
We had such a great time, that on Monday morning, I called some of the other Elderly Care Facilities in our area and asked if they would like trick-or-treaters to visit them on Halloween. I had 4 eagerly accept the offer. Two of them said they were hoping children would come between 3-4pm, which surprised me since most kids are getting out of school then. We were able to attend only one of those centers, but again, the residents just “oohhed” and “aahhed”. Then we picked up my husband and headed to the other two. One said to come during their dinner hour, which I guess we were late too since we only visited with about 15 residents. The director walked us out and thanked us profusely for making their day. Then we went to the last center on my list which had invited us to trick-or-treat down their halls from 5:30-7:30. We arrived at 6pm and traveled the halls. This facility felt more like a hospital, than a retirement center. There were a lot of sad-looking people there. We gave them our best smiles and wished them well. They were excited to pass out the candy to the children. We all went home talking about how sad and lonely those people were. My children remembered to include them in our family prayer last night.
Between the trunk-or-treat at church, and all the elderly facilities, my children collected a lot of candy. And they were so excited, because we had already agreed to donate the candy to the military troops oversees through OperationGratitude’s Halloween Candy Buy Back. (see www.opgratitude.com or http://www.halloweencandybuyback.com/
All in all, we served the elderly by letting them enjoy the children in their costumes and pass out candy; we passed the candy (well, most of it! ) on to the troops, and used the money we were given to buy ourselves some stuffed animals, which financed the donation to children’s charities. Not a bad day!! And, it allowed for my favorite teaching moment, an example reiterating Christ’s atonement for each of us: as we got to the cash register to buy the stuffed animals and the children placed their $3 on the table and I said I’d make up the difference to pay for the rest.
We felt like there was no better use of our time spent dressed in costume trick-or-treating. Rather than ringing one more neighbor’s door, who could probably care less, we visited those who are craving visitors and adored the children in costume. It was an AWESOME opportunity to serve those in need and to be God’s hands on earth! I share this experience not to brag in any way, but to give an idea of what next year can be like for you too! God bless.
Written by Dawn Kyler