This All Hallow’s Eve, a community initiative to create healthier and more Earth-friendly holidays finds itself more than 2,800 miles from where it started.
What started out as a Seattle-area project in the town of Issaquah, Wash., has spread nationwide this past year like wildfire, through media support, word of mouth and lots of support from businesses and people all over the country. Bella’s Cookies, in the little old state of Delaware, helped Milton Elementary to be one of the first schools to sign on.
Last year, and again this year, Mark and Kelly Leishear of Bella’s Cookies, who have children at Milton Elementary, signed on to help Milton have a “Green Halloween.” Students who are interested can sign up to trade-in their Halloween candies and treats for healthy snacks, information about recycling and gardening, and organic treats. Last year, all of the collected candy was sent to U.S. troops in Iraq.
Bella’s Cookies, based in Milton, is Delaware’s first all-natural and organic cookie company.
“We'll try to have local, organic apples,” said Kelly. “And East Coast Garden Center has signed on to give vegetable seeds and coupons for annuals. Good 4 U Natural Market here in Milton will be giving organic chocolate bites, and there will be information on recycling in there from Trash Can Dan from the DSWA, and coloring books, pencils and crayons.”
Kelly and Mark Leishear put it all together and fill the rest of the bag with Bella’s Cookies, nature stickers and other goodies for the students.
“We had stretchy snakes last year and wild animal glow-in-the-dark tattoos — things to get them to think about nature and animals that are not necessarily plastic and junky.”
They have Milton Elementary signed on and hope to eventually bring it to all the elementary schools in the Cape Henlopen school district.
Corey Colwell-Lipson, founder of Green Halloween, started the idea after trick-or treating with her own two children in the fall of 2006.
“We went to some houses that had some non-conventional items, like bubbles and stickers, and the kids got so excited about it,” she explained. “After we got done, we were talking about it and realized that kids may be over-exposed to candy nowadays. They don’t necessarily view it as a treat, and we saw a window of opportunity to change the tradition.”
In coming up with the idea of making Halloween healthier, they decided to try to put an Earth-friendly spin on it too. They unveiled Green Halloween in the spring of 2007 and have gotten overwhelming response — from both their hometown of Issaquah and throughout the nation.
Last year, Tree Swing, a Seattle, Wash.-based nonprofit that “through innovative partnerships and programs, is dedicated to improving the health of children and preventing childhood obesity,” was the beneficiary of Green Halloween profits.
“I wanted to do it as a community service,” said Colwell-Lipison. “So all the money received last year went to this brand new non-profit, Tree Swing. This year they asked if Green Halloween could be an official program, so now I am the director of Green Halloween, a program of TreeSwing.”
As for the candy collected in Colwell-Lipson’s area, it was composted, because, as she said, “Daddy doesn’t need it either.”
“I don’t think Halloween will ever not be about candy, but we can reduce the treats and add in the treasures,” Colwell Lipison said. “We can include things that are from nature, or recycled, or even cost-free. Just think about times when you are doing laundry and all the treasures you find in your children’s clothes. They keep stones, coins and feathers. These are all treasures to them, and it is just how we as parents approach it.”
On the Green Halloween Web site, at www.greenhalloween.org, there are sections for parents, kids and schools about ways to learn about helping out locally. There is information about being a volunteer coordinator of Green Halloween, how to host a green Halloween party, talking to schools and the community about becoming involved with Green Halloween, and much more.
For information on how to get a school or community involved, visit www.greenhalloween.org. For more information from Mark and Kelly Leishear of Bella’s Cookies about what is already happening in this area, visit www.bellascookies.com or call (302) 684-8152.