From candy bar fund-raisers and Girl Scout cookie drives to Halloween trick-or-treating, there are plenty of reasons for area children to hit the sidewalks in residential neighborhoods this fall.
For adults looking to keep them safe, the following tips are offered to children by the Amherst Police Department and Officer Kenneth J. Beilman, who conducts the department's safety programs and crime-prevention workshops:
Young children should be escorted at all times by an adult.
Older children can pair up with a "buddy," such as a friend or older sibling.
Door-to-door sales activities should be done in daylight. If an evening excursion is necessary, stick to well-lit streets.
Stay on your own street or within your own neighborhood.
Never enter anyone's home, even if the person says he or she needs to go back inside to get money for a purchase. Wait on the porch, away from the immediate door area.
Don't carry large amounts of money from previous sales.
Trust your instincts: If a house or a person seems suspicious, leave right away.
If approached by a stranger on the sidewalk or street, don't engage in a sales pitch. Leave right away. Children should report such incidents to adults.
Older children traveling with a buddy should notify adults about the streets they plan to cover and the time they will be returning.
Parents or children uncomfortable with the idea of door-to-door fund raising should come up with different, creative ways to earn money for groups and organizations.