Halloween for Hunger aims higher

By 
  • October 26, 2011

Instead of asking for candy on Halloween night, students at St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School in Hamilton will be trick-or-treating for non-perishable food items.

The school will be holding its 12th annual Halloween for Hunger campaign to raise money for the Neighbour to Neighbour Centre with a goal of collecting a record-breaking 70,000 pounds of food.

“Last year, we canvassed 21,000 homes on the west and central mountain of Hamilton,” said Alyssa Berardocco, a Grade 12 student and co-ordinator of Halloween for Hunger at the school.

“This year, we created new maps and we’re canvassing 23,000 homes so we’re hoping we’ll be able to surpass our goal.”

Halloween for Hunger is a Free the Children initiative and is run in various schools across North America. Nearby Bishop Tonnos Catholic Secondary School in Ancaster, Ont., will also be participating.

To date, 43 Catholic high schools in Canada have signed up.

Since the Hamilton students have increased the number of homes they’ll be visiting this year, they’re hoping to get between 800 and 900 volunteers — students, teachers and parents, said Alyson Petsche, a Grade 12 student and Halloween for Hunger co-ordinator.

“It’s really just been a snowball effect,” said Petsche. “We started with 20 kids and now we’re up to close to 800. And it’s just been unbelievable the support we get. It’s kind of like the theory if you build it, they will come.”

According to Free the Children, two years ago the campaign at St. Thomas More accounted for one-third of all Halloween for Hunger proceeds, said Berardocco.

Last year’s goal was to raise 60,000 pounds of food, but the school surpassed that by more than 8,000 pounds with a total of 68,852.

Students realize their work is important as there are more than 1,200 families affected by poverty in their neighbourhood, which translates to about 4,500 children, she said.

“These numbers just hit home for us because the number of students in our school is close to 2,000 students — so that’s the amount of two of our schools,” said Berardocco

Students at the school want to take part year after year because they realize how fortunate they are to live such blessed lives, she said.

“We have three meals a day, our parents provide us with the necessities of life and we know that not everybody in our own community is able to receive these necessities.”

With most students too old to go trick-or-treating, they look forward to the campaign with many asking about signups for routes as early as one month in advance.

“And the students get excited about the campaign because they are helping other people but they can have fun while doing it,” said Berardocco.

To follow the food drive’s progress on Twitter, see www.twitter.com/H4H_stm.

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