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In the Halloween spirit

Every year on Halloween children dress up and go door to door to trick-or treat. But what about the kids in hospitals who can't leave, get a costume, canvass for candy, and enjoy the fun?

Since 2006, Spirit Halloween stores have run a drive called "The Spirit of Children," which raises money by selling wristbands and asking customers for contributions. All money raised goes to a local children's hospital to improve patient comfort by buying items such as televisions and furnishing for patient rooms and family lounges. Spirit stores also provide activities such as face painting and Halloween parties for children in the hospital.

The program has expanded from 11 hospitals the first year to 50 this year, including Women and Children's Hospital in Buffalo and Golisano Children's Hospital at Strong in Rochester.

This year's goal is $500,000. Heather Golin, who is in charge of the Spirit of Children program, said the Spirit store sends employees to supervise the hospital Halloween events and help patients participate. "One hundred percent of the money raised at local Spirit stores goes to that local hospital," she said. The Spirit store donates everything from costumes to employees to the hospital.

Samantha Walters, special events coordinator for the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, in a letter to the Spirit store praised the program for providing "children with a break from the hospital routine, as well as an opportunity to forget about being hospitalized, if only for a short time."

The party was held at Women's and Children's Hospital Oct. 14, but Spirit retail stores will collect donations throughout the Halloween season.

Kevin Gibas is a sophomore at St. Joseph Collegiate.

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