While most college students center their Halloween festivities around costumes and partying, members of SF State’s Hermanos Unidos used the holiday as an opportunity for community service.
Just days before Halloween, a few members of HU delivered 100 hand-made activity kits for sick children at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital of Stanford.
Approximately 15 members from HU took part in putting together the activity kits, which consisted of Halloween themed bracelets, cups, coloring pages, pencils and crayons.
Motivated by his prospective pediatric career, HU member JC Herrera initiated the community service concept.
“I was looking for a creative way to give back and do something fun, especially because it’s Halloween,” Herrera said. “The mentality behind this was that these kids don’t get to leave the hospital sometimes, and they have to stay there during holidays.”
With the use of secured fundraising money, HU was able to allocate $85 for this community service venture.
Tierra Bent, who has been an HU member for two years, stated this is the first time HU has geared its community service toward a children’s hospital.
“I think it was kind of a shock to some people, since we usually do community service for low-income families and neighborhoods,” Bent said.
Though this community service venture is new for HU, the hospital was very appreciative of their donation.
“We are grateful to have friends like los Hermanos Unidos to ensure our patients have a fun, festive Halloween,” said Community Relations Associate Ashton Slagel through email. “This time of year, as the holidays approach, the support of our community is even more crucial to bring a sense of normalcy and celebration to patients spending these special occasions in the hospital.”
According to Herrera, the hospital has a set of guidelines for volunteers and donors to follow when making activity kits for children. They refrain from foods and or anything that can be a potential hazard for a child.
“We use gifts like kits, toys and books year-round,” Slagel said. “Patients receive toys for special occasions such as holidays, birthdays, and treatment milestones (i.e. last chemo treatment), or as a distraction tool during a scary procedure.”
Herrera and Bent described the project as an overall enjoyable experience.
“The exciting part was seeing everyone put them together,” Herrera said. “At one point we were practically an assembly line, listening to music and putting all the stuff together. It was fun, and it’s something that’s new to our community service events.”
Agreeing with Herrera, Bent found the project to be rewarding and eye opening.
“When we think about Halloween we always think of trick-or-treating, but we never think about the kids that don’t get to go trick-or-treating,” Bent said. “This was something really fun and easy to do and I would definitely encourage others to do it – and it makes you feel good.”